A powerful Democrat in the House of Representatives has introduced a bill that will make it much harder to produce domestic energy supplies on federal land. Edward Felker of the Washington Times brings the insanity at work to light:
A powerful congressional chairman has joined a growing number of Democrats who want to sharply increase the cost of drilling leases that the government provides on federal lands, a move vigorously opposed by Big Oil and Republicans.
Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has proposed a plan to boost royalty rates by 50 percent and to cut the lease periods to five years from the current 10 years or more. His recommendation would be part of a sweeping overhaul of the $22 billion, scandal-tarred oil and gas drilling program that the Interior Department oversees.
Mr. Rahall's bill would make numerous other changes to federal oil and gas leasing. Among other actions, it would:
- End the "payment-in-kind" option that allows companies to pay royalties in oil and gas rather than cash. Mr. Salazar has said he would consider ending the program.
- Tighten royalty payment rules through new penalties, elimination of interest on overpayments, and other adjustments.
- Consolidate Interior Department leasing activities into a new Office of Federal Energy and Mineral Leasing, and end leasing by the Minerals Management Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
- Require the adoption of five-year plans for oil and gas leasing on federal lands similar to those developed for offshore leasing.
- Create an Oceans and Coastal Trust Fund funded by revenues from Outer Continental Shelf leases and royalties.
- Impose new environmental restrictions to curtail pollution from offshore oil drilling.
- Impose royalties for the first time on uranium mining.
Hat tip: Dennis Sevakis