|ANWR Provision Starts Congressional Journey|
Washington DC – H.R. 3407 The Alaskan Jobs & Energy Act sponsored by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-4) will begin its long journey towards law on Wednesday with a mark up in the Committee for approval. The bill which was introduced in November was discussed in Committee in December and has been waiting in the wings for a chance to join the much larger American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act (H.R. 7) which will make it to the floor of the House for a full vote.
H.R. 7 is also known as the Transport Infrastructure or Highway Bill and supports the refurbishment of American roads and bridges using funds generated partially through oil and gas production taxes. Along with H.R. 3407 are two other related oil bills, HR 3408 The Pioneers Act which promotes the production of oil shale, and H.R. 3410 to promote oil and gas exploration in the outer continental shelf (OCS) which will be passed out of committee at the same time Wednesday. The trifecta of bills will form the energy and funding mechanism for the larger Transport bill. Lease royalties and production taxes raised from producing oil from federal lands and water areas under the three bills will be used to fund the bill. In a previous version of the Transport bill on the Senate side in November last year a new tax on income over a million dollars was used to fund the bill and was hoped to generate $60 billion. Funds from oil and gas production from ANWR are estimated to generate considerably more than $60 according to estimates by the Office of Management and Budget. Lease sale estimates alone are expected to bring in $4-8 billion for ANWR 10-02 lands alone.
The Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio will be the lead sponsor of HR 7 in its final form. HR 7 is set to be released this week and will have its language adjusted as needed by the leadership as the political situation with other bills evolve. One possibility is the announcement that the Keystone Pipeline provision might be incorporated into the Transport bill adding a fourth oil production element to the bill. Keystone has been a political hot potato in the last month due to the President’s rejection of the proposal within the confines of the deadline set forth in the Payroll Taxcut bill for which it was passed with in December last year. Despite opposition to Keystone from Senate leader Harry Reid and the President there are many Democrats in the Senate who support the pipeline. The question will be in a conference committee situation will the equally controversial ANWR provision in HR7 be ejected in a trade off to keep Keystone in and force one or the other issues to the President? Another question will be, how will the bill generate the funds necessary to fill in should ANWR be removed?
The passage of ANWR in HR 7 will mark the 12th time ANWR has past the House in its history. The last campaign to move the issue took place in 2007 with a procedural vote that had little chance of success. It ultimately failed to gain support. 2005 and 2006 were the previous more serious and successful attempts to pass ANWR in defense appropriation and budgetary processes.
You can view news on the mark up of H.R. 3407 and its companion bills 3408 and 3410 on the House Natural Resources Cmte. web site linked below.
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