The GOP dominated House is pushing "drill baby drill" legislation under the guise of paying for investments in transportation infrastructure.
On Jan. 31, Rep. John Mica (R-FL), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced a major transportation reauthorization bill that depends on oil and gas drilling revenue for funding.
It's a real sweetheart deal for their oil industry backers.
First, they want to open the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge to oil development, which has been on their wish list for 20 years. It's been proven over and over again that the insignificant amount of oil there - enough for about 6 months of US consumption - is not worth destroying one of the world's remaining pristine ecosystems.
Second, they want to mandate expansion of offshore oil-and-gas leasing everywhere: the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, all of the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. States wouldn't have the option of protecting their coasts from this pollution.
It's been proven over and over again that increasing oil drilling will not lower gas prices and will not make the US independent of foreign oil. If we opened every square inch of our resources, the US could only produce 2% of the world's oil. Since the US consumes 25% of the world's oil, do the math. Besides that,
the oil is sold on the world market, not the US market.
Third, they want to open huge areas for oil shale drilling in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. That's the same as tar sands oil in Canada. It produces 300% the emissions compared to a conventional barrel of oil and will be "game over" for
addressing climate change.
And the bill completely eliminates funding for biking and walking safety and cripples environmental review for transportation projects.
If the Canada tar sands pipeline doesn't pass in the bill introduced earlier this week, it too will be attached to this transportation bill.
Not to leave anything out, it eliminates funding for mass transit!
Since this extreme, ideologically-based House bill doesn't have a chance of passing the Senate, all it does is continue their tradition of blocking the ability for Congress to pass legislation that will help the economy recover.
In contrast, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has already unanimously passed a bipartisan federal transportation bill.
Revenue from Oil is a Myth
The GOP says expanded oil and gas drilling will bring needed revenue to the federal governnment to pay for transportation infrastructure upgrades.
Even the most generous revenue estimates from this reckless expansion of drilling will not be enough to fund proposed transportation projects in the bill. And the small amounts of revenue that would be generated certainly wouldn't pay for transportation projects next year - it takes 10 years for oil
companies to explore, apply for drilling permits and start development.
Many oil companies that drill in the Gulf don't even pay royalties to the US government! We give our resources away for free.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, will offer an amendment to the Offshore Drilling bill that requires oil companies to finally pay royalties.
In the mid-1990s, when oil and gas prices were low, oil companies were issued leases that allowed royalty-free production in exchange for developing costly deepwater drilling in the Gulf, which at that time was unchartered.
Those incentives were supposed to end when prices rose above a threshold level, but they haven't.
Markey's plan, which has faced GOP and industry opposition in the past, would prevent oil-and-gas companies from getting any new leases in the Gulf unless they agree to inclusion of limits on royalty waivers in the 1996-2000 leases.
Last year, House Republicans formed the House Energy Action Team (HEAT) to push through GOP energy priorities - more oil
and gas production and protection for big oil companies.