Lummis presses Salazar on rescinding Wyo Oil & Gas leases
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Proposed HB 3534, CLEAR Act
by U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis media release
September 16, 2009
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., questioned Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, regarding a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decision to rescind 23,757 acres of oil and gas leases in the Bridger Teton National Forest in Wyoming.
Lummis’ comments came during a House Natural Resources Committee two-day hearing on the Democrat-pushed "Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act of 2009," H.R. 3534, a comprehensive bill to slow energy development in the west.
"These leases were properly auctioned and the Department of Interior has accepted payment," Lummis said. "Once the BLM accepts a bid at an oil and gas lease sale, the agency has a mandatory statutory obligation under the Mineral Leasing Act to issue that lease to the qualified winning bidder within 60 days following payment by the successful bidder."
"To put it more simply, I do not believe the BLM has the authority to rescind these leases once they have been paid for."
Secretary Salazar assured Lummis he would respond in writing regarding the rescission of the Wyoming leases
Lummis then shifted her questioning to the Democrats’ bill to obstruct new domestic energy development, H.R. 3534.
"This bill would shift both BLM’s oil and gas program, and Mineral Management Service (MMS) responsibilities, to a new Office of Federal Energy and Mineral Leasing. I believe this new department would slow the development of the approximately 70 percent of Wyoming’s natural gas production and 65 percent of Wyoming’s oil production that occurs on federal lands."
"Not only will this bill put a giant stop sign on the road to domestic energy development, it will directly lead to the loss of more good paying American jobs. Today, almost 1 in 10 Americans are out of work. In Wyoming, the unemployment rate has nearly doubled. Instead of creating jobs by opening additional areas for exploration, Democrats want to add to an ever burgeoning government bureaucracy and delay more wind, solar, nuclear, oil and natural gas production."
H.R. 3534 would result in both increased costs to the oil and natural gas industry, as well as add new, unnecessary levels of bureaucracy as to how the federal government and the industry conduct business together. Here are just a few examples:
• Consolidate all energy and mineral leasing programs currently in the Bureau of Land Management and Minerals Management Service into a newly created agency in Interior that would handle lease sales, inspection, enforcement and revenue collection for traditional and renewable energy onshore and offshore. The agency would be called the Office of Federal Energy and Minerals Leasing.
• Increase minimum oil and gas bonus bids; increase onshore lease rental rates; mandate new but undefined reporting and diligent development "benchmark" requirements for oil and gas lease holders on federal lands and waters; and eliminate categorical exclusions.
• Eliminate the royalty-in-kind (RIK) program.
• Overhaul planning and regulation for outer continental shelf (OCS) energy production, essentially resulting in an unofficial, bureaucratic moratorium on OCS development.