Senate Democrats

Bush Republican Energy Bill Helps Big Oil, Not Consumers

The Bush Republican energy bill is just more of the same failed policies that have led to record-high gas prices. Instead of investing in renewable technologies, the Bush Republican plan calls for more oil drilling and expanding oil shale production, a process which has not been proven to be economically viable, results in huge greenhouse gas emissions and requires enormous amounts of water. The United States controls just 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves, but accounts for 25 percent of demand. Instead of addressing the root causes of today’s high prices and trying to reduce our dependence on oil, Bush Republicans offer more of the same: more handouts for Big Oil, more harm to the environment and no help for America’s drivers.

Bush Republican energy plan would help big oil, do nothing for American drivers:

Bush Republican Bill Would Open OCS and ANWR to Drilling, Repeal Fees for Drilling Permits. The Republican bill would open more areas for drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and repeal a $4,000 fee for new applications for drilling permits. [, Summary of S. 2958, 5/7/08]

  • BUT: America Has Just 3 Percent of the World’s Oil Reserves While Consuming 25 percent of the World’s Oil. Americans consume 25 percent of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. [NRDC]
  • BUT: Of the 45.5 Million Acres of Federal Onshore Lands Leased to Oil and Gas Companies, 31 Million Acres Are Not Producing.  There are 45.5 million acres of federal onshore lands currently leased by the oil and gas industry—but over 31 million acres are not producing. Likewise, there are 33 million acres of the federal OCS lands that are under lease but are not producing. [Department of Interior]
  • BUT: Just 21 Percent of OCS Leases Are in Production, Just 19 Percent of OCS Acres Under Lease Are Producing. There are 7,740 active leases in the outer continental shelf and only 1,655 are in production.  There are over 41,000,000 acres in the outer continental shelf have been leased for oil drilling, yet only 8,123,000 acres are in production. [Department of Interior]
  • BUT: Just29 Percent of Americans Thought Emphasizing Production Was the Best Way to Solve Our Nation’s Energy Problems. Asked if the U.S. should emphasize production of more oil, gas and coal or emphasize conservation in order to solve our nation’s energy problems, just 29 percent of Americans chose production while 61 percent supported conservation. [Gallup Poll, 3/6-9/08]

Bush Republican Bill Would Loosen Regulation Over Construction of New Refineries. The Republican bill would grant the EPA authority “to accept consolidated applications for permits required to construct and operate refineries,” essentially bypassing current environmental regulations. The bill would also establish a 360 day deadline for approving or disapproving consolidated applications and a 120 day deadline for applications to expand existing refineries, authorizing financial assistance to states and Indian tribes to pay new personnel to process permits. [, Summary of S. 2958, 5/7/08

  • BUT: On President Bush’s Watch, Big Oil Has Failed to Invest in Refineries Allowing Refinery Utilization and Capacity to Fall from 93 Percent to 89 Percent. Since 2001, the Big Oil companies have failed to adequately invest in new refinery capacity and utilization and which has resulted in a reduction of refinery utilization and capacity from 93 percent to 89 percent. [Energy Information Administration]
  • BUT: On President Bush’s Watch, Big Oil Companies Have Made More Than $600 Billion in Profits. Since 2001, the major oil companies have amassed close to $600 billion in profits and they have used those excessive profits to purchase approximately $185 billion on stock buybacks rather than making serious and significant investments in clean alternative fuels, new refinery capacity and utilization, and renewable forms of electricity. [Based on ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, ChevronTexaco, and ConocoPhillips annual company financial reports for 2000-2008]

Bush Republican energy plan calls for investment in dirty, unproven oil shale:

Bush Republican Bill Would Repeal a Moratorium on Funding Completion of Commercial Leasing of Oil Shale. The Republican bill would repeal the one year moratorium on funds to complete final regulations for the commercial leasing of oil shale. The moratorium was established in last year’s Omnibus spending bill. [, Summary of S. 2958, 5/7/08]

  • BUT: Oil Shale Extraction Has Not Been Proven to Be Economically Viable. “It remains to be demonstrated whether an economically significant oil volume can be extracted under existing operating conditions… The cost of producing oil shale remains uncertain, especially when compared with the economic fundamentals of extracting conventional petroleum reserves.” [CRS Report, 4/13/06]
  • BUT: Extraction of Oil Shale Will Produce More Greenhouse Gases. “Heating oil shale for retorting, whether aboveground or in situ, requires significant energy inputs. Over at least the next few decades, this energy will be supplied by fossil fuels, as discussed in Chapter Three. As a result, the production of petroleum products derived from oil shale will entail significantly higher emissions of carbon dioxide, compared with conventional crude oil production and refining. In addition, the high temperatures associated with surface retorting can cause a release of carbon dioxide from mineral carbonates contained in oil shale.” [“Oil Shale Development in the United States: Prospects and Policy Issues” RAND Institute, 2005]
  • BUT: Oil Shale Extraction in the West Would Significantly Decrease West’s Water Supply.  “One of the many unknowns in the oil shale production process is how much water will be required. Producing 1 million barrels of oil from shale per day could require up to 300,000 acre-feet of water per year, enough to supply up to 365,000 families of four for one entire year. This is an enormous amount of water in the arid West. In 1996, the BLM found that oil shale development in Colorado would reduce the annual flow of the White River up to 8.2 percent and would permanently erase or severely degrade nearly 50 percent of BLM stream fisheries, including that of the Colorado River cutthroat trout.” Additionally, certain processing methods had associated groundwater contamination issues. [“Land Facts: Dirty Fuels” Natural Resource Defense Council, 3/08; CRS Report, 4/13/06]

Bush Republican bill would do nothing to invest in renewable energy to reduce dependence on oil:

Bush Republican Bill Does Not Call for Investment in Renewable Energy. According to the summary of the Republican bill, it provides no revenue to invest in renewable energy. It calls for establishing unfunded research programs to determine infrastructure needs for the transport of renewable fuel blends, accelerate the production of advanced batteries and for studying “the environmental and efficiency attributes of diesel-fueled vehicles.” [Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Press Release, 5/1/08]