by Chet Hardin
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn is certainly flexing his pro-drilling, anti-regulation muscles lately. Being named the chair of the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee, Lamborn is now taking directs shots at the Obama administration, calling for the unfettering from federal oversight drilling on public lands. The man is blazing trails!
On Saturday, he preached a feisty pro-business, anti-government sermon to a choir of about 250 Republican faithfuls. You can read about that, here. And today, he intends to speak on the floor of the House in support of H Res 72, which would direct "certain standing committees to inventory and review existing, pending, and proposed regulations and orders from agencies of the Federal Government, particularly with respect to their effect on jobs and economic growth."
His text, as e-mailed to us from his office:
Under normal circumstances, the programs under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee bring in the second highest revenue to the federal treasury, provide opportunities for American job creation, and contribute to our Nation’s economic and national security.
However, the Obama Administration is crippling American energy and mineral production through restrictive, new policies, rules, and regulations.
President Obama’s de facto moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has left many thousands of people out of work. Since last spring, the Administration has issued only a handful of new shallow water permits and they have issued no new permits for deepwater leases. Why are no permits being issued? The answer is simple — it’s regulatory confusion.
The Administration, in attempting to create new rules for oil and gas permitting, has repeatedly changed the rules and moved the goalposts on companies operating on both federal lands and waters.
Instead of thoughtful, reasoned rulemaking that seeks public comments and engagement, the Administration engaged in rulemaking by word processor by directing the change of over 14,000 engineering requirements.
The Louisiana Secretary of Natural Resources has said the changes would not enhance safety but instead “creates a regulation with increased safety risks, mandates that cannot be met, and too many ambiguous and unenforceable requirements to count.”
And it is not just the Gulf of Mexico that’s been idled. Last week we learned that 800 direct jobs and more than a 1,000 indirect jobs would not be created due to the failure of the EPA to simply issue an air permit after five years of consideration.
This same regulatory uncertainty is happening with solar energy in the Western United States. While the Administration has announced that solar energy is one of its highest priorities, it has once again created tremendous regulatory confusion.
The new solar energy zones proposal, while potentially helping some solar development, has left dozens of major energy projects and many jobs with absolutely NO regulatory path forward.
The regulatory confusion on federal lands is even worse for onshore oil and gas production. Rule changes and regulations have cost billions in lost investment in the West. In my home state of Colorado, there’s been nearly a 90 percent drop in new leases on federal land.
A recent study by the respected Western Energy Alliance — based in Denver — has documented $3.9 billion in investment that was diverted from the West in 2010 because of red tape and overregulation by the Department of Interior. The Western Energy Alliance estimates this lost investment could have helped create upwards of 16,000 jobs in the West. And these are high-paying jobs.
The Administration is now examining how to impose federal regulations for the first time on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. This proposal would duplicate state permitting and create an unnecessary obstacle for American energy development.
Finally, no discussion of burdensome regulations would be complete without addressing the Administration’s war on coal. Nowhere is this effort more evident than their effort to rewrite current surface mining rules. The current rule was the result of years of environmental review, public comment and hearings, and responsible rulemaking.
The Administration is now is now purposefully limiting public comment opportunities and rushing forward with a rule that BY ITS OWN ADMISSION will cost thousands of jobs.
Even worse, the Obama Administration recently pulled a permit three years AFTER IT WAS APPROVED for a coal mine that was already hiring people. What sort of confidence can anyone have in an Administration and its regulatory environment when issued permits can be stripped away at whim?
Mr. Chairman, this resolution asks us to focus on the impacts of restrictive regulations just like these and that is what we plan to do. We will focus on how we can clear these regulatory hurdles to create a path for energy security, lower energy prices to strengthen the economy, helping to balance our budget, and most of all, more high-paying energy jobs for Americans.