19 May 2007 - 10:36
  • News Code: 104943

WASHINGTON, DC-- Organizations representing oil and gas producers and consumers are headed into the weekend examining what could be the US House"s major energy bill this session.

On May 16 Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WVa.) introduced HR 2337, entitled the Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act. The bill"s four titles include provisions which potentially would roll back parts of the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPACT), require federal lessees in onshore split-estate situations to negotiate specific terms with surface landholders before starting operations, and increase federal reclamation bond and produced water handling requirements.


Rahall said as he introduced the bill that it follows hearings by the committee that that established a record "that clearly points to a mandate for change in the way the federal government manages its energy resources." The committee will hold a hearing on the bill on May 23.


A day earlier, the Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth plans to discuss its members" reactions to the bill with reporters. Scheduled participants include American Petroleum Institute Pres. Red Cavaney and American Gas Association Pres. David N. Parker.


Other parts of the bill address energy alternatives, carbon sequestration and other global climate change measures. But the provisions that would affect oil and gas producers most directly are in Titles I and II.


Title I impacts

Title I, which would repeal parts of EPACT, contains provisions that would restore drilling permit processing fees and eliminate the permit processing deadline. It also would replace a requirement to establish energy rights-of-way corridors on federal lands with a study of oil, gas, electricity, and hydrogen transmission congestion and constraints.


It also would slow down oil shale and tar sands leasing and development by removing a deadline that was established by EPACT, changing "final" to "proposed" and "shall make" to "may make" in certain sections, and require the US Interior secretary to develop a comprehensive leasing and development strategy.


Such a strategy would have to include programs to determine optimal methods and timeframes for potential oil shale and tar sands development on federal lands within the Green River basin. It also would have to include plans to conduct "critical environmental and ecological research, high-payoff process improvement research, an assessment of carbon management options, and a large-scale demonstration of carbon dioxide sequestration in the general vicinity of the Piceance basin."


The section also includes a requirement to study alternative approaches to providing federal lands access for early, first-of-a-kind commercial tar sand and oil shale extraction facilities. It also would add a requirement for such leases to fully comply with the National Environmental Policy Act on a site-by-site basis.


Other sections of Title I would repeal EPACT"s categorical exclusion provision, establish best management practices requirements for onshore oil and gas lessees, and extend the deadline for decisions on lessee"s consistency appeals under the Coastal Zone Management Act to 320 days from 160 days.



News Code 104943

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