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Charles Kennedy

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House Democrats Seek More Oil Drilling Bans

Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee are proposing more offshore drilling bans and higher fees and royalty charges on the oil and gas industry to raise funds for wildlife conservation efforts, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing a document circulated among lawmakers it had seen. 

Democrats sitting on the Natural Resources Committee propose increased royalties for oil and gas pumped on public lands and want new fees for idled oil wells and the inspection of oil and gas infrastructure, among a dozen measures to raise more money from the oil and gas sector, according to the plan seen by Bloomberg.

All the additional levies on the fossil fuel sector are designed to raise $5.6 billion, some of which is planned to be used in a $550-million funding scheme for wildlife conservation.

The document prepared by staff on the Natural Resources Committee also proposes an offshore drilling ban in the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The central and western Gulf of Mexico areas, which currently pump around 17 percent of America’s crude oil, are not part of the offshore drilling ban plan.

The proposal is subject to revisions before a vote next week, while Republican staff members on the committee told Bloomberg they had heard of such a document but it hadn’t been sent to them.

Even if the proposal passed at the committee, it faces a lot of opposition in Congress, including from Democrats from major oil producing states.

President Joe Biden ordered in January a review of the current U.S. leasing regulations in federal waters and on federal land, suspending new leases while the review lasts. The move drew criticism from the oil industry, which says that the temporary moratorium on new lease sales undermines America’s economy and energy security while raising the need to import more crude oil.

Earlier this week, court documents showed that the Biden Administration would resume oil and gas leasing on U.S. federal lands later this year.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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