During Senate debate on our legislation to curb excessive energy market speculation by Wall Street traders, Democrats will offer a proposal to increase domestic production of oil while reducing consumption. These steps will provide the American people with both short term relief and long-term measures to solve our energy crisis.
Democrats energy amendment provides short and long term answers:
Fast Tracking Domestic Production. Right now, oil companies hold leases to 68 million acres of American land that they should be exploring and drilling but are failing to do so. The Democratic amendment will speed up the production of oil and gas from federal lands. We give the Secretary of the Interior the authority to shorten lease terms, raise rental rates on new leases, and require oil companies to comply with benchmarks on their progress. Our amendment would also accelerate leasing land already available in Alaska, the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico, and other areas – without resorting to drilling in environmentally protected areas. All told, these new areas are estimated to contain tens of billions of barrels of oil. That’s enough to displace oil imports form the Persian Gulf for nearly a century.
Increasing Oil Supplies Now. Last month, we passed legislation to direct the President to temporarily stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Now, Democrats are proposing legislation to sell high-quality light crude oil now held in the SPR and replace it with lower-quality heavy crude. Once approved by the President, that oil would increase supply and begin reducing prices. Ninety percent of the proceeds generated from this sale would be invested in LIHEAP, the Federal program to help families, senior citizens and people with disabilities afford the cost of heating and cooling their homes.
Reducing Demand. Our legislation includes several steps to tackle the demand side of the energy crisis. We promote public transit and make smart investments in the clean, renewable fuels and battery technologies we need to end our addiction to oil in the future. We also encourage conservation through an American oil savings action plan, with targeted savings of 2.5 million barrels per day by 2016, growing to 10 million barrels per day in 2030. The measure also includes $1 billion to help retool Detroit to make more efficient vehicles.
Eliminating Giveaways to Big Oil. As big oil companies continue to report record profits, it is time for the American people to stop paying for unnecessary giveaways to big oil. Democrats are committed to accelerating leasing on federal lands and ensuring U.S. taxpayers get a fair share of the value from these public resources. As such, our amendment will repeal mandatory deepwater and deep gas royalty relief for Outer Continental Shelf leases in the Gulf of Mexico and make it easier for the Department of the Interior to collect accurate amounts from the oil and gas companies drilling on public lands.