There has been recent action in Congress on issues important to the oil and gas industry. This post provides an overview of the major energy-related bills in Congress.
H.R. 538, the Native American Energy Act – On October 8, the House passed H.R. 538 by a 254-173 roll call vote. Eleven Democrats supported the bill, while one Republican voted against it. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Young (R-AK), 1) requires Interior Department agencies to use a uniform system of reference numbers and tracking systems for oil and gas wells, 2) ensures that environmental impact statements for major federal actions on Indian lands are available for review and comment only to the affected Indian tribe and individuals residing within the affected area, and 3) prohibits any Interior rule on hydraulic fracturing from having any effect on Indian lands, except with the consent of its Indian beneficiaries. Two amendments were passed during floor consideration. The first, which was offered by Rep. Lujan Grisham (D-NM), allows the Forest Service to create a pilot program to execute contracts with tribes to perform administrative, management, and other functions of programs of the Tribal Forest Protection Act of 2004. The second, which was offered by Rep. Young, clarifies that only a member of the affected tribe, other individuals residing in the affected area, or a state, tribal, or local government within the affected area may submit public comments on a NEPA study concerning a federal permit or land approval for Indian lands. The bill was reported favorably out of the Natural Resources Committee on September 9 by a vote 23-12 (H. Rept. 114-276).
H.R. 702, a Bill to Adapt to Changing Crude Oil Market Conditions – On October 9, the House passed H.R. 702 by a 261-159 vote. 26 Democrats supported the bill, while 6 Republicans opposed it. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Barton (R-TX), would repeal restrictions on the export of oil, natural gas, petroleum products, petrochemical feedstocks, and exploration, production, and refining equipment. During floor consideration, eight amendments were successfully added to the bill, the most consequential of which prohibits export of crude oil, refined petroleum products, and petrochemical products to Iran. The bill was reported favorably out of the Committee on Energy and Commerce on September 10 by a vote of 31-19 (H. Rept. 114-267).
H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act – The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Upton (R-MI), was marked up by the Energy and Commerce Committee and favorably reported by a vote of 32-20 on September 30. The bill is the committee’s long-awaited comprehensive energy legislation, and has been subject to several legislative hearings. The comprehensive legislation focuses on four main areas: 1) modernizing energy infrastructure, 2) 21stcentury workforce, 3) energy security and diplomacy, and 4) energy efficiency and accountability.
S. 2011, the Offshore Production and Energizing National Security (OPENS) Act – The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Murkowski (R-AK), was marked up and reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 12-10 on July 30 (S. Rpt. 114-137). The legislation includes five titles, three of which facilitate offshore production in specific geographic areas: the Gulf of Mexico, the Alaska Outer Continental Shelf, and the Southern Atlantic Ocean. The remaining two titles establish a tribal resilience program and facilitate access to export markets for domestic crude oil.
S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act – The comprehensive energy bill, which was also introduced by Sen. Murkowski, was also marked up by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and reported out of the Committee favorably by a vote of 18-4 on July 30 (S. Rpt. 114-138). Several relevant amendments were passed during the committee markup, including amendments establishing coal and vehicle technology programs, authorizing a study of the implications of LNG exports, and creating a pilot program to streamline the review process for oil and gas drilling permits on state lands. It includes five titles: 1) efficiency, 2) infrastructure, 3) supply, 4) accountability, and 5) conservation reauthorization.
S. 1372, the American Crude Oil Export Equality Act – The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Heitkamp (D-ND), was marked up by the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and reported favorably to the Senate by a vote of 13-9 on October 1. The bill would rescind the President’s authority to restrict exports of coal, petroleum products, natural gas, and petrochemical feedstocks, as well as products used for exploration, production, refining, or transportation of those products. Only one amendment, which requires the President to certify that American victims of Iranian acts of terror are compensated before he can lift the sanctions on Iran, was adopted during the markup.