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Kind Votes to Increase Domestic Production of Oil

July 17, 2008
Press Release

Outlines His Plan for a More Sustainable & Affordable Energy Future

Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) today voted to increase domestic production of oil, focusing on the resources in 20 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). H.R. 6515, the Drill Responsibly in Leased Lands (DRILL) Act, would have sped up the development of the NPR-A, reinstated a ban on exporting oil from Alaska, and forced oil companies to fully explore the 68 million acres of federal lands on which they already own leases but have not yet developed. Unfortunately, Republicans in the House blocked this legislation from passage.

“The National Petroleum Reserve was set aside specifically for this purpose and this bill would have leased, developed, and brought its 10.6 billion barrels of oil to market as soon as possible,” Rep. Kind said. “We are in an energy crisis, and we must take a good look at all of our domestic options to help bring some relief to families. That said, I also believe we should not simply give away the store in an attempt to help the big oil companies control as much land as possible – and as a result a greater share of the market – before President Bush leaves office.”

Unlike the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), which is protected by law from drilling, the NPR-A is already designated for expedited oil and gas production and contains significantly more oil resources than ANWR. The bill would have sped up the development of this area by requiring the Bush Administration to approve leases more rapidly and invest in pipeline infrastructure that would allow the oil to be brought to market as soon as possible. Yesterday, a day before this legislation was to come before the House, the Bush Administration announced a major lease sale in the NPR-A this fall.

The DRILL Act would also have told the oil companies to “use it or lose it” on the 68 million acres of on- and off-shore leases they currently hold. If they could not certify that they were diligently developing the land, they would have to give up the unused leases so that someone else can develop them.

“Increasing domestic production is one part of the energy puzzle,” Rep. Kind said. “It’s also important, however, to recognize that the cure to our addiction to oil is not more oil,” Rep. Kind said. “We cannot drill our way to energy independence. That’s why I’m calling for a comprehensive energy strategy that recognizes the market forces at play. I know the impulse is to focus only on the short term, but we cannot squander this opportunity when there is the political will to make the investments that will prevent this situation in the future.”

Increased domestic oil production that would have resulted from the DRILL Act represents just one aspect of Rep. Kind’s plan for a more sustainable and affordable energy future. Rep. Kind is also calling for:

  • A response to this energy crisis that is as monumental as the task, by making an Apollo-like investment in the development of renewable technologies that will bring us to the next level.
  • A significant reduction in our demand for energy through increased energy conservation on the federal, state, local, and individual level.
  • The release of a small amount of oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve (SPR) to immediately expand available supplies, send a strong message to oil speculators, and help reduce the record prices that are helping push the economy toward recession.
  • The return to a strong dollar policy to reduce inflation and bring oil prices down. Actions by the Federal Reserve, as well as bringing our budget into balance and reducing our deficit can strengthen our currency, and reduce prices.

“These are all things we should have been doing a long time ago, but for too long, our energy policy has been anything but forward-looking,” Rep. Kind said. “A lack of leadership in the White House to enact a comprehensive energy policy and leaders sympathetic to the oil industry has left Americans with $4 a gallon gasoline. The Democratic Congress is working to try and make up for the failed policies of the past, give families relief in this difficult time, and put us on a path to greater energy independence.”