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Summary of Energy Hearings: March 2001

Hearing on National Energy Policy: Oil and Refined Petroleum Products
House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality
March 30, 2001

The Bottom Line
Oil and refined petroleum products were the topic of a House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee hearing on March 30th -- one in a series being held on energy issues for the purpose of creating a comprehensive national energy policy. According to Subcommittee Chair Joe Barton (R-TX), the concern with oil is that the price per barrel is governed by world market fluctuations, which are often controlled by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). In order to protect national security and have more control over price, the US should reduce its dependence on foreign sources of petroleum products. The hearing focused on upstream issues related to gaining access to public lands, and downstream issues such as the use of fuel additives for reducing pollutant emissions. Testimony was heard from the Energy Information Administration, utility and industry representatives, and a representative from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Hearing Summary
Subcommittee Chair Barton assembled a panel of industry representatives, one environmental group representative, and a speaker from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to discuss the nation's use of oil and petroleum products, future trends, and what can be done by Congress to increase domestic oil supply while protecting the environment. In his opening statement, Barton reviewed the problems that accompany dependence on foreign sources for petroleum products, most notably the "mood swings" of the world spot market. He asserted that the petroleum industry is plagued by federal government regulations at all levels: from access to public lands to constant revisions of environmental rules at refineries to end-use emissions standards. He would like to find ways to increase domestic production of petroleum products, streamline permitting for refineries, and review regulations that inhibit exploration or decrease refining capability.

Ranking Member Rick Boucher (D-VA) also thinks it is important to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil and reduce the volatility of the oil market through increasing domestic supply. But during the question period he made clear that he does not see the need for the country to "plunge headlong" into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) without exploring other open lands with high oil and gas potential. He also stated that increasing refinery capacity (which has been in decline) is of principal concern and will play a key part in increasing oil supply.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) stated that he supports reduction in dependence on the OPEC nations for oil, but in his opinion it should be done through using less oil, not by increasing domestic supply. He said that drilling in ANWR will not provide the energy needed to solve this "energy crisis." If there really is a crisis, then it should be mitigated through the more immediate results of conservation measures.

Testimony was heard from John Cook of the EIA Petroleum Division, Stephen D. Layton on behalf of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), Gregory C. King from Valero Energy Corporation, Peter D'Arco of SJ Fuels, Thomas L. Robinson of Robinson Oil Corporation, Richard Kassel of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and John Paul Pitts, Oil Editor of the Midland Reporter Telegram.

According to EIA short-term projections, the price of crude oil should level at about $29 a barrel through the summer months -- although this projection is highly dependent on the action of OPEC. US gasoline inventories have been in decline since January 1999 and will most likely remain below normal levels through next year. Consumption of petroleum products is expected to continue to rise steadily. The low inventories and a lack of refining capability will likely cause gasoline price fluctuations through the summer driving months.

Mr. Layton and Mr. Pitts reviewed the role of petroleum products in a national energy policy from the perspective of smaller domestic producers. Pitts said that most independent producers would like to see the nation adopt a national energy policy for reasons of national security and calming petroleum price volatility. According to Layton, independent producers drill 85 percent of domestic wells and produce 60 percent of the petroleum in the lower 48 states. The government needs to encourage these producers through tax incentives, reforming the royalty structure for offshore drilling, providing subsidies for capital that small companies may not be able to afford, and making the natural resource base accessible.

Mr. King, Mr. Robinson, and Mr. D'Arco focused their testimony on the way that EPA regulations affect refiners and distributors of fuel. They encouraged regulatory stability for fuel additives and emissions standards. According to the witnesses, the fuel additive MTBE has been effective in reducing emissions and cleaning the air. Mandating a change to another fuel additive such as ethanol would increase the cost of gasoline and reduce fuel production. Furthermore, the groundwater contamination associated with MTBE is a sign of a larger problem: leaky gasoline tanks, which could be solved by fixing or removing old tanks. Robinson especially favored a "performance goal" approach to standards rather than constant overhaul of regulations. The industry representatives also encouraged Congress to help refineries make the upgrades required by environmental regulations rather than shutting them down for non-compliance. Refiners are subject to regulations at all stages of production and Congress should consider the cumulative effect of these regulations.

The position of the Natural Resources Defense Council is that national energy policy ought to focus on conservation and use of renewable fuels, not increasing supply of fossil fuels.  The US energy problems are not the result of air quality regulations or lack of exploration on public lands. In the past, implementation of regulations for fuel switching and emissions reduction have been successful at minimal cost to industry and the consumer. There is no reason not to implement existing technology that will lessen the impact of industry on the environment.


Oversight Hearing on Estimated Oil and Gas Resource Base on Federal
and Submerged Land: How Much Oil and Gas Can These Lands Produce?
House Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources
March 22, 2001

The Bottom Line
On March 22nd, the House Resource Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing on estimating the oil and gas resource base on federal land. Subcommittee Chair Barbara Cubin (R-WY) called the hearing to review the Minerals Management Service (MMS) offshore and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) onshore oil and gas resource assessments. The subcommittee has held two other hearings to determine the magnitude of fossil resources on public lands that may be restricted from exploration activities. USGS Associate Director for Geology Patrick Leahy of USGS and MMS director Carolita Kallaur reported the findings of their agencies mineral assessment projects. Dr. Naresh Kumar testified of behalf of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).

Hearing Summary
The House Resources Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources is conducting a series of hearings to investigate the oil and gas potential of US onshore public lands as well as the outer continental shelf (OCS) lands. The USGS and the MMS have periodically been requested by Congress to conduct resource assessments of public lands.  The hearing was held to review the latest of these assessments and discuss the restrictions that may inhibit exploration of promising targets.  Subcommittee Chair Cubin (R-WY) said that knowing the domestic supply potential is fundamental to creating a national energy policy. The Ranking Member Ron Kind (D-WI) stated that although he sees the value of "intellectual honesty" in assessing the domestic fossil energy potential, at some point the nation is going to have to face the fact that dependence on fossil energy is not sustainable in the long term. He believes that geothermal energy has been long overlooked as a potential energy source.

Testimony was heard from USGS Associate Director for Geology Patrick Leahy, MMS Acting Director Carolita Kallaur, and Dr. Naresh Kumar on behalf of AAPG. Leahy summarized the findings of the USGS 1995 National Assessment of US Oil and Gas Resources and compared them to the findings of previous USGS assessments. The assessment found that there are a total of 112 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil onshore and in state waters. Technically recoverable resources include proved reserves, reserve growth, and undiscovered resources that could be extracted without regard to expense. Economically recoverable resources are those that would be recoverable at a given market price. The technically recoverable natural gas resources on public lands totaled 1074 trillion cubic feet including accumulations of coal-bed methane and gas hydrate.  An additional assessment in 1998 looked in detail at the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  The estimated total amount of technically recoverable oil and natural gas in in the 1002 area is 10.4 billion barrels. The USGS is currently updating the 1995 assessment for the areas that have high natural gas potential and overlaying this with an analysis of any restrictions or impediments to the development of potential resources.

Carolita Kallaur outlined the MMS's Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Resource Assessment 2000 that covers Alaska, the Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico. The MMS uses the terms "undiscovered resources" and "known reserves" to differentiate those deposits that are theoretical based upon geological data from those that are discovered and considered economically viable.  The estimates of the 2000 report are greater than those of past assessments, reflecting knowledge gained through further exploration. According to the 2000 assessment, the total mean known reserves under OCS lands is 7.7 billion barrels of oil and 68.1 tcf of natural gas. The mean estimate of undiscovered resources total 75.0 billion barrels of oil and 362.2 tcf of natural gas.

Dr. Kumar is the vice chair of the AAPG Committee on Resource Evaluation whose purpose it is to provide a third-party perspective on the federal resource assessment process. Kumar framed his testimony with the statement that it is of utmost importance to know the magnitude of domestic fossil resources because fossil fuels provide 88% of the nation's energy. According to AAPG, the assessments performed by MMS and USGS were made with sound techniques and scientific procedures, but the are inherently conservative given the limited exploration activity on public lands. As exploration and data collection continues in areas of high potential, resource estimates tend to rise. Dr. Kumar emphasized that many oil and gas discoveries are surprises that are only revealed as reserves are tapped. Encouraging production of domestic resources is one of the best ways to ensure an affordable and consistent energy supply for the nation.


Hearing on Harmonizing the Clean Air Act with Our Nation's Energy Policy
Senate EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air, Wetlands, Private Property, and Nuclear Safety
March 21, 2001

The Bottom Line
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's Subcommittee on Clean Air, Wetlands, Private Property, and Nuclear Safety took up the energy debate on March 21st, seeking to define ways in which the Clean Air Act -- which is up for reauthorization this year -- can be aligned with a national energy policy. The challenge is to create a national energy policy that balances environmental needs with the nation's energy needs. Testimony was heard from Linda Stuntz, former Deputy Secretary at the Department of Energy; Katie McGinty, chair of President Clinton's White House Council on Environmental Quality; energy industry representatives; and representatives from two environmental groups. EPA emissions regulations, the Kyoto Protocol treaty, and fuel cell technology were discussed at length.

Hearing Summary
The subcommittee held this hearing in order to discuss ways to "harmonize the Clean Air Act with the nation's energy policy." Subcommittee Chair George Voinovich (R-OH) said that he was in support of the Murkowski energy package (S.388 and S.389), which he thinks provides significant efficiency and conservation initiatives that would lead to cleaner air. He noted that the Clean Air Act (CAA) is up for reauthorization this year at a time that Congress is also working to create a national energy policy. This hearing and future hearings on global warming, multi-pollutant legislation, and oil and natural gas issues will help the committee to align the CAA with the energy needs of the nation. Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) emphasized the importance of investment in fuel-cell technology and reducing emissions from coal-fired plants. He is promoting a multi-pollutant bill that will provide regulatory certainty to utility investors. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in her opening statement criticized the Bush Administration for rolling back regulations that promote public health and protect the environment. She also argued that a national energy policy must include incentives for research and development of alternative energy sources. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) stated that Congress should work quickly to tackle the waste-stream issues associated with nuclear power so that it can be incorporated fully into the nation's energy portfolio.

The witnesses were asked to address three issues: The effect of CAA on the amount of electricity generated, how CAA effects the permitting of more gas pipelines and transmission lines, and the ways that policy makers can improve CCA. Linda Stunz was involved in the 1990 CAA reauthorization as Deputy Energy Secretary under President George H.W. Bush.  Her testimony highlighted the fact that the nation often participates in "fuel fads"-- currently natural gas --  that prove disastrous.  She encourages the use of a broad range of energy sources. Emissions from coal plants need to be reduced, but through advancement of cleaner, more efficient plants, not through reduction in coal burning. She stated that the nation must "work harder to keep energy and environment in better balance." Katie McGinty, who was the chair of President Clinton's Council on Environmental Quality, testified that the politics surrounding the present energy crunch have instilled fear and promoted solutions that are self-interested and shortsighted. She compared the oil and gas exploration activities under the previous Bush Administration with those under President Clinton in order to dispel the notion that the Clinton Administration had discouraged exploration on public lands. She encouraged investments in a broad range of energy sources -- not just fossil fuels -- to truly balance the nation's energy policy. Voinovich rebuked McGinty for her "abrasive testimony".

The second panel contained two energy industry representatives who agreed that regulations enacted since the ratification of CCA in 1990 have incurred great costs on energy producers. Clean air regulations hinder the establishment of new generation facilities because of regulatory uncertainty and unfair implementation of rules. Many investors turn away from utilities because regulations are so often changed that producers must be constantly retrofitting equipment. Anthony Alexander, President of FirstEnergy Corp., recommended that a national energy policy promote a wide range of fuels for electricity production, provide regulatory certainty to investors and promote the use of clean coal technologies. A representative from the Alliance to Save Energy stressed that energy efficiency can and should be considered an energy source. Increasing the energy efficiency of cars, buildings, and appliances would immediately reduce pollutant emission to the atmosphere.

The senators asked many questions regarding the manner in which renewable energy sources, more efficient products, and clean coal technology can be promoted. The panel gave a number of suggestions including tax credits, public education, and subsidies. Some emphasized that a free market would create price signals to encourage consumers to be efficient and to seek out more efficient products. Senator Robert Smith (R-NH) argued that emissions trading along with carbon sequestration and more efficient technology will be enough to reduce pollutants in the air without federal regulation. Topics of future subcommittee hearings will include nuclear energy, natural gas, and climate change.


Domestic Natural Gas Supply and Demand: The Contribution of
Public Lands and the Outer Continental Shelf
House Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources
March 15, 2001

The Bottom Line
The House Resources Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on March 15th to discuss the role that public lands play in meeting the nation's natural gas supply needs. Testimony was heard from gas industry representatives as well as representatives from environmental organizations. Marlan Downey, president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), testified before the committee concerning the supply of natural gas beneath public lands and the problems associated with bringing that supply to the market. According to Subcommittee Chair Barbara Cubin (R-WY), public lands and the outer continental shelf (OCS) represent the most promising targets for exploration to increase supply of natural gas, but unfortunately many of these lands are essentially off limits to producers.

Hearing Summary
Subcommittee Chair Cubin called the hearing to hear testimony regarding the role that public lands and the outer continental shelf play in the supply of natural gas and how the regulations on public lands fit into a national energy policy. She hoped to get ideas as to how to increase oil and gas production from federal lands. Ranking Member Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) stated that he agrees that increasing natural gas supply is important, but opening of currently protected lands is not the most effective or pressing way to accomplish that goal. Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) pointed out that much of the known natural gas supplies lie under lands that are open to oil and gas exploration. He stated that having drilling proceed in these already available areas combined with the construction of the North Slope pipeline would bring sufficient natural gas supply into the lower 48 states without compromise of our "national treasures".

Downey focused his testimony on the decline in on-shore natural gas production that has occurred in the past ten years.  The decline has been caused by market volatility, abandonment of operations on public lands due to increasing federal regulations, and the unavailability of drilling rigs. He testified that according to the Energy Information Administration's data, 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas must be added to the market each year through 2020 to keep pace with demand. Importation of natural gas from other countries is difficult and expensive, which forces the US to depend on domestic production to fill the need. Downey assured the committee that the US has the supply of natural gas needed to fill the growing demand, but producers -- especially small producers -- need incentives to invest in onshore drilling operations. The areas with the highest exploration potential are the Gulf of Mexico, the Rocky Mountain Basins, and the deep basins in Texas and Oklahoma. Congress must either assist in opening lands for exploration, or plan for an energy future that does not rely so heavily on natural gas.

Other industry representatives echoed Downey's statements, outlining the redundancy of the permitting process for leases, the large amounts of land currently off limits to exploration through a variety of regulations, and the importance of increasing natural gas supply to meet the growing demand. According to Matthew Simmons of Simmons & Company International, the main impediments to increasing supply of natural gas is the aging fleet of drilling rigs, lack of personnel, and restrictions limiting access to federal acreage with reserve potential. About 85% of natural gas supplies come from outer continental shelf (OCS) lands, but while deep water oil exploration has been increasing, the drilling moratoria on OCS lands have caused a reduction in natural gas exploration. Both Simmons and James T. Hackett of the Domestic Petroleum Council emphasized the importance of Lease Sale 181 in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for providing southern states with a reliable source of natural gas energy. Marc Papa of the Independent Petroleum Association of America gave several policy recommendations: Continue to provide a royalty structure that encourages resource development on OCS lands, rethink OCS drilling moratoria, analyze the many levels of regulation that inhibit natural gas exploration in the Rocky Mountains, continue the Department of Energy program that provides information about changes in supply and demand of different energy sources, create initiatives to train an oil and gas production workforce, and create financial instruments to aid smaller producers in exploration and production activities.

Lisa Speer of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) highlighted some of the environmental problems associated with oil and gas exploration including oil spills, damage from onshore infrastructure, water pollution, and air pollution. Rather than encouraging more exploration, Congress should call for increases in efficiency and conservation to bring supply in line with demand. David Alberswerth of the Wilderness Society explained that the restrictions for development on public lands are only seasonal in most areas and that producers do have access most of the year. He cites Bureau of Land Management data that 95% of public lands in the Overthrust Belt states of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming are available for oil and gas leasing. This 95% figure caused debate with Cubin during the question period because she believes -- and the industry representatives seemed to agree -- that even lands that are technically available for exploration have associated restrictions that cause operations to be uneconomical or logistically impossible.


National Energy Policy: Coal
House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality
March 14, 2001

The Bottom Line
On March 14th, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality held a hearing to discuss the role of coal in a national energy policy.  This hearing is the second in a series being held by the subcommittee to explore a variety of energy sources that will be part of a comprehensive national energy policy.  Testimony was heard from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), industry, the Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Agency, a consumer advocacy group, and the Clean Air Task Force. Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) opened the hearing by applauding the announcement by President George W. Bush that carbon dioxide emissions would not be regulated under the Clean Air Act.  Barton thinks that such regulations would have a negative effect on the coal industry.  Many of the panelists, including Mary J. Hutzler of the EIA, agreed that there is presently no cost-effective way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions without reducing the amount of coal being burned.

Hearing Summary
The Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee continued its discussion on national energy policy with a hearing focused on the role of coal. Most members agree that coal, being the most abundant and inexpensive fossil energy source in the US, will continue as central part of any national energy policy.  Reducing the pollutant emissions of coal fired power plants was the theme of much of the hearing.  Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) began by applauding the announcement by President Bush that carbon dioxide will not be regulated as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.  Barton also stated that for as long as he is chairman of the subcommittee any bill that contains the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions will be "dead on arrival" to the committee.  Despite the chairman's pronouncement, many of the member statements as well as the testimony and question period focused on carbon dioxide emissions and their relationship to global climate change.  Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) were vocal in their disappointment with the president's announcement. Other statements from both Democrats and Republicans recognized the pivotal role that coal will continue to play in the generation of electricity, while highlighting the need for environmental protection through more research into clean coal technologies.  A topic that came up in the question period was that of  "legal finality" in regard to environmental regulations.  Utilities are discouraged from investing in coal fired plants because there is uncertainty in what the future liability will be with respect to environmental effects and emissions standards. Both Rep. Barton and Ranking Member Rick Boucher (D-VA) would like to create incentives for utilities to invest in coal-fired electricity generation in order to pursue the goal of energy independence for the nation.

Witness Testimony
Mary Hutzler of the Energy Information Agency (EIA) presented the agency's predictions for future coal prices and use Annual Energy Outlook: 2001.   At present, coal accounts for 52 percent of electricity generation in the U.S.  The EIA predicts that coal production will increase over the next 20 years, but that the industry will lose market share because of increased use of natural gas and renewable sources.  Improved productivity and a shift to the less labor intensive western surface coal mining will cause a loss of jobs in the coal industry in coming years.  The report also found that more stringent environmental laws and regulations could negatively affect the coal industry -- depending on the imposed emissions requirements.

Industry representatives Richard Abdoo of the Wisconsin Energy Corporation and  J. Brett Harvey of CONSOL Energy Inc., speaking for the National Mining Association (NMA), testified that the U.S. is in dire need of a national policy that is balanced and increasingly self sufficient.  Coal is the only fossil energy source that the U.S. is able to export. The nation should take advantage of the vast coal resources it has at home.  New combustion technologies burn coal cleaner and more efficiently.  There is a need for the federal government to support research and development of such technologies.  The industries support voluntary programs to reduce power plant emissions and increase efficiency.

Cecil E. Roberts of the United Mine Workers of America discussed many aspects of the coal industry.  He first gave an overview of coal reserves -- where they are and how they are extracted.  He then discussed the importance of coal for electricity production.  The remainder of Mr. Roberts' testimony focused on the effects that the Clean Air Act has had on the coal industry.  In reaction to the Clean Air Act many utilities switched to low-sulfur coal, mainly extracted from western states in more productive mines.  This trend along with the recent shift away from coal as an energy source has caused a loss of jobs in the coal industry particularly in mining communities of the eastern U.S.  Although it is important that measures are taken to protect the environment, it would be devastating to the coal industry to regulate beyond our present technological capabilities.

Roe-Hoan Yoon from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI)  gave expert testimony as the director of the Center for Coal and Minerals processing.  He focused his statements on the progress being made in processing fine coal.  In the past, fine coal has been discarded as waste because it was too difficult to clean.  With commercial application of technological developments from VPI, fine coal can be processed at a lower cost than mining deep coal.  An environmental benefit will also result from the removal of fine coal from impoundments because coal residue will no longer be leeching into the surroundings.

Billy Jack Gregg of the Public Service Commission of West Virginia encouraged Congress to craft legislation that creates a truly open energy market that is transparent and not subject to manipulation.  If it becomes necessary for Congress to encourage the use of a particular energy source it should be done through tax policy.  He closed by stating that, "In any fair market competition, coal will continue to play a significant role in meeting our nation's energy needs."

Edwin Pinero of the Bureau of Environmental Sustainability in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection stressed that coal is one of many available energy options.  Pennsylvania has been a strong advocate of a multiple source tactic in energy policy.  Pennsylvania also has a demand side program that focuses on encouraging energy conservation and efficiency.  In order to make sound policy decisions, the link between energy generation and environmental impact must be understood.  He encouraged more federally funded research into clean coal technologies, and support for states mine reclamation and energy conservation efforts.

Armond Cohen of the Clean Air Task Force reviewed the environmental concerns that must be considered when deciding the role of coal in a national energy policy.  He concluded that the U.S. should set emissions reduction targets for fossil fuel plants.  Air pollution is thought to be responsible for many public health problems as well as environmental degradation.  Public policy should encourage the implementation of new technologies that reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants.


Role of Public Lands in the Development of a Self-Reliant Energy Policy
House Committee on Resources
March 7, 2001

Hearing Summary
This hearing on the role of public lands in energy policy included testimony from three state governors and producers of a range of energy sources.  Chairman James Hanson (R-UT) opened the hearing with a call for a return to "the original concept of multiple use on our public lands."  In his opinion, high consumer utility bills this winter are the result of the lack of a "coherent national energy policy over the past eight years" and "policies that have restricted development of our domestic energy resources on public lands."  Hanson emphasized that environmental protection and resource development are not mutually exclusive.  Ranking Democrat on the committee Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) pointed out that "natural gas and oil production from public lands was at an all time high during the Clinton Administration," therefore it makes no sense to clamor for the opening of more public lands for exploration.  He feels that the debate over oil and gas production on public land has come down to opening a national wildlife refuge in "little ol' Alaska" to supply an undetermined amount of oil and gas years in the future.  He thinks that a more constructive approach regarding Alaskan petroleum reserves is to focus on the construction of the congressionally authorized North Slope gas pipeline. Other representatives submitted their written statements to the record.

Governor Tony Knowles (R-AK) said in his testimony that Alaska has always been able to balance environmental stewardship with natural resource development.  Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) would provide much needed jobs in Alaska, lower consumer costs for oil, and reduce the nation's reliance on foreign energy sources.  He also encouraged support for the construction of the North Slope pipeline and reauthorization of the trans-Alaska pipeline right of way lease. Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer agreed with Knowles that increasing energy production on public lands is good for the economy and land management responsibilities should be shared more fully between the federal agencies and the states.  Montana Governor Judy Martz would like more coal production to be allowed on federal lands in her state.  She feels that President Clinton's Roadless Initiative is destructive to the economy of Montana and potentially the country because it bars access to "a wealth of natural resources."

Representatives from the Independent Petroleum Producers Association (IPAA) stressed the importance of streamlining the bureaucratic process for gaining access to lands in the Rocky Mountains, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in Alaska.  The producers are confident that new drilling technology will minimize environmental damage to sensitive areas.  A representative from the National Mining Association stated that a self-reliant national energy policy must emphasize coal development because it is estimated that 85-95% of the nation's domestic fossil fuel resources are in the form of coal.  The Roadless Initiative prevents coal production in known deposits.

The third panel contained representatives from hydropower, biomass power, and the agriculture industry.  The two representatives from the hydropower industry focused their testimony on the importance of removing restrictions on dam relicensing to increase the output of energy from already dammed streams.  Mr. Robert Judd of the USA Biomass Power Producers Alliance is concerned about the decline in biomass production due to the decline in logging on public lands.  He feels that thinning of forests to prevent forest fires can also provide power through biomass generation.  Mr. Leland Hogan, a rancher from Utah, outlined the problems faced by food producers in the face of high energy prices.  For more information and to view printed testimony from the hearing see the House Resource Committee website.


Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Contributed by Spring 2001 AAPG/AGI Geoscience Policy Intern Mary H. Patterson

Posted: July 9, 2001

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