Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today regarding the Reid-Bingaman amendment to the Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act. The text of the amendment is attached:
“For weeks now, Republicans have been saying we need to ‘find more’ oil – but they refuse to acknowledge that we’ve already found it. The Reid-Bingaman amendment accelerates production in the tens of millions of acres that are now open to the oil companies to lease, explore and drill. It also doubles lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, accelerates leasing in Alaska, releases oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and requires the United States to develop a plan save 2.5 million barrels of oil a day.
“Democrats believe in increasing domestic production now and investing more in new, clean energy for the future. We have offered and will continue to offer both short- and long-term solutions to solve the energy crisis. Bush-McCain Republicans have offered nothing but empty talk, even rejecting our proposal for a debate and votes on amendments important to them. The time for wasting oil leases and wasting the American people’s time is over. It’s time for Republicans to come to the table in good faith.”
The Democratic Energy Amendment: Supply, Demand & Taxpayer Fairness
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.