"Use It or Lose It" Loses

Posted: Jun 30, 2008 2:28 PM

In an effort to pass some kind of energy bill before the 4th of July recess and having failed with their price gouging bill, the Democrats brought H.R. 6251 - the Responsible Federal Oil and Gas Lease Act sponsored by Rep. Rahall from West Virginia -- to the floor last week. The bill is also know as the "Use it or Lose it" bill.  

Not only does it do nothing to increase oil production, this bill prohibits the Secretary of the Interior from issuing new leases for exploration for, or production of, oil or natural gas, unless the applicant certifies that he is “diligently developing” the leased lands or surrenders the leases.   This bill would restrict the development of American energy, while sending a signal to the energy markets that petroleum had better come up quick or not at all, a move that could trigger higher energy prices and discourage investment in energy exploration.

19 Democrats joined 176 Republicans in defeating this "duplicate" piece of legislation. I say duplicate because Federal energy lease holders already must produce oil or natural gas within five to 10 years to live up to the terms of the lease and the law. 

Interestingly enough, back in 1992, Speaker Pelosi as well as Majority Leader Hoyer and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WV), author of the bill voted for the very duplicate provisions of the current lease structure.  According to Title 30, Subsection 188(a) and (b) of the United States Code, “any lease … may be forfeited and canceled … whenever the lessee fails to comply with any provisions of this chapter, of the lease, or of the general regulations…  Any lease … shall be subject to cancellation by the Secretary of the Interior after 30 days notice upon failure of the lessee to comply with any of the provisions of the lease.”  

So here we are in recess having left Washington, D.C. again without acting on any meaningful legislation to increase the supply of American-made energy to help lower gasoline prices. Now we know why Congress' approval rating is at 18%.