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Senators push to boost domestic energy supply
Bill calls for limited drilling in ANWR
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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., announced that they are co-sponsoring legislation that aims to lower the cost of energy and enhance U.S. energy security by increasing domestic supply.

Their co-sponsorship follows on the heels of a letter Isakson and Chambliss sent earlier this week urging the President to help stabilize gas prices by halting deposits of oil into the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

“Given our dependence on foreign energy in this country, it is critical for us to consider the development of our untapped domestic energy supplies,” Isakson said. “With skyrocketing gas prices, we must seek every way possible to increase the domestic production of energy.”

“In light of the ever-increasing gas prices, it only makes sense that we would take advantage of domestic sources of fuel that we know exist today,” said Chambliss. “Increasing domestic production is a critical component of a comprehensive energy policy that eliminates our dependence on foreign sources of oil.”

Specifically, the Domestic Energy Production Act of 2008 would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to establish projected state lines by extending boundaries seaward to the outer margin of the Outer Continental Shelf for the purpose of pre-leasing and leasing activities in new producing areas. It also would allow the governors of Atlantic and Pacific coastal states to submit to the Secretary of the Interior a petition requesting that the area, within state boundaries, be made available for oil and gas leasing. The Secretary must approve or deny such petitions as soon as is practicable.

The legislation would establish a competitive oil and gas leasing program for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Coastal Plain under the Mineral Leasing Act. It also would limit production and support facilities to no more than 2,000 acres on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Coastal Plain and provide for a 50/50 share of revenues between the federal government and the state of Alaska.  

The bill would direct that $35 million of state’s share be deposited annually into a “Coastal Plain Local Government Impact Aid Assistance Fund” for Alaska communities.

The legislation also would:
• Repeal a section of the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008”, which created a $4,000 fee for new applications for permits to drill;

• Grant the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency authority to accept consolidated applications for all permits required to construct and operate a refinery;

• Establish a 360-day deadline for the approval or disapproval of a consolidated permit application for new refineries and a 120-day deadline for consolidated permit applications to expand an existing refinery;

• Suspend the filling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for 180 days beginning from the date of enactment;

• Amend the “Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007” to strike the definition of renewable biomass and replace it with Senate-passed definition. This is critically important to ensuring that the emerging cellulosic ethanol industry is able to take advantage of all sources of cellulosic biomass;

• Establish a research program to determine new material science needed for pipelines, pumps, tanks and other infrastructure for transport of renewable fuel blends, either though dedicated renewable fuel pipeline networks or as blends with petroleum products; and

• Repeal a section of the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008,” which prohibits the use of Department of the Interior funds to complete final regulations for the commercial leasing of oil shale as statutorily required under the “Energy Policy Act of 2005.”

On April 29, Isakson and Chambliss, along with 15 other Republican senators, sent a letter to President Bush requesting that the U.S. Department of Energy immediately halt deposits of domestic crude oil into the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Isakson and Chambliss voiced disappointment that Bush so far is rejecting the idea.