Walden asks EPA to finish gas price report

Oregon Congressman Greg Walden has asked the EPA to follow through on energy study
— House also passes bill to lift ban on new offshore domestic energy production

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Lisa Jackson calling on the agency to produce a long-stalled energy supply study. The letter, which is attached, was signed by 27 Representatives and 9 Senators. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has pointed to the increased use of different types of fuels in different locations as one factor in our nation’s gasoline price volatility. The proliferation of these specialty or “boutique” fuels increases the chance that localities using them will experience inventory shortages when nationwide fuel supplies are low; thus, causing gasoline prices to rise.

In 2005, Congress directed the EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) to undertake a Fuel Harmonization Study in order to examine the effects varying fuel standards might have on issues like fuel prices. This report was due to Congress by June 2008 but has never been completed, which is a clear violation of Congress’ intent to find out what causing price spikes in gasoline.

The letter called on Jackson to conduct the Fuel Harmonization Study as soon as possible and to respond to Congress promptly.

“Oregonians are tired of paying nearly $4 at the pump while the federal government fails to take a comprehensive approach to energy policy that would make us less reliant on foreign oil,” Rep. Walden said. “This study is just one step, and it should have been done long ago.”

Today, the House of Representatives also passed H.R. 1231, legislation that would lift the President’s ban on new offshore energy production by requiring the administration to move forward on American energy production in areas containing the most oil and natural gas resources.

In 2008, in response to record-high gasoline prices, both Congress and the President acted to end the decades-long bans on offshore drilling – opening new areas off the Atlantic Coast and the Pacific Coast.

Since President Obama took office, he has systematically taken steps to re-impose an offshore drilling moratorium. He first abandoned the (2010-2015) leasing plan that would have allowed for drilling in these newly opened areas. He postponed and cancelled previously scheduled lease sales. He later announced a restrictive drilling plan that placed the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Eastern Gulf off-limits to future energy production – the way it was before the record high gasoline prices of 2008.

“We can continue to develop renewable energy technologies like biomass while also allowing safe and responsible domestic energy production both on and off our shores,” Walden said. “We can create jobs, decrease our reliance on OPEC oil, and ease the pain at the pump with access to America’s great energy reserves.”

“On the west coast, we now import about 50 percent of our crude oil, the majority of which comes from OPEC nations like Venezuela,” Walden said. “An all-of-the-above energy policy includes putting Americans to work to develop the energy resources here at home so we can bring down the price at the pump and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Specifically, the legislation passed in the House of Representatives would:

• Require that each five-year offshore leasing plan include lease sales in the areas containing the greatest known oil and natural gas reserves. For the 2012-2017 plan being written by the Obama Administration, the areas with the greatest known reserves are specifically defined as those estimated to contain 2.5 billion barrels of oil or 7.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. At least 50 percent of those areas must be made available for leasing in the 2012-2017 plan. Currently, the administration’s 2012-2017 draft plan includes no new leasing and drilling, only possible future lease sales in the Gulf. The requirements to lease in these most prospective offshore areas reverses the Administration’s effective moratorium on opening new areas.

• A state’s Governor may request to opt-in to a five-year leasing plan and the Secretary of Interior will include a lease sale, or sales, of the state’s offshore area in the plan.

• Require the Secretary to establish a production goal when writing a five-year plan. The goal will be the specific amount of oil and natural gas production that is estimated to result from leases made under the plan. Establishes the production goal for the 2012-2017 plan being written by the Obama Administration at 3 million barrels of oil per day and 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day by 2027. This 2012-2027 time encompasses the fifteen year period of the five-year plan and resulting ten-year leases made under that plan. By comparison to today’s levels, this increase in oil equates to a tripling of current American offshore production and would reduce foreign imports by nearly one-third.

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