As Friday's House recess deadline looms, the CLEAR Act is rushing toward a floor vote. The CLEAR Act was supposed to fix whatever went wrong with Federal oversight of the Deepwater Horizon. One provision of the bill, offered by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), would have set up a Congressional commission of petroleum engineering experts to investigate the accident. This proposal was accepted unanimously in committee and a similar idea has been endorse by the Senate.
According to Connie Hair at Human Events, the idea for a Congressional commission died on Mme. Speaker's desk. Apparently Ms. Pelosi's magical powers of divination extend beyond the ability to discern the content of legislation without reading it; she can also prevent future oil spills using only taxes, slush funds and earmarks, without even bothering to investigate why this well failed.
Another proposal of the CLEAR Act thumbs its nose at State authority by extending Federal regulation of oil and gas activity to State waters. Because the Feds handled the Deepwater Horizon so competently. Bizarre!
Perhaps the most dunderheaded proposal in the CLEAR Act is a brand new tax on oil and gas: $2 per barrel and 20 cents per thousand cubic feet fee on all production from Federal lands. The Feds already enjoy a risk-free share of production in their lease royalty. This new tax will fall primarily on small American producers. It will kill jobs, inhibit development of Federal lands, deprive Western States of future revenue and work exactly counter to the goal of increased domestic energy security.
It's an ANTI-TARIFF. Strange, bizarre, weird, but true!
Pelosi Blocks Oil Spill Investigation
Unlike the commission set up by President Obama -- packed only with environmental activists and no petroleum engineers -- the commission unanimously approved by the Natural Resources committee would be comprised of technical experts to study the actual events leading up to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. ...
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), top Republican on the Natural Resources Committee said the Obama administration's commission was set up to protect the President. "By deleting the bipartisan, independent oil spill commission that's received bipartisan support in both House and Senate committees, Democrats have shown they are more interested in protecting the President than getting independent answers to what caused this tragic Gulf spill. Some of the biggest failures that contributed to the Gulf disaster are the direct responsibility of the federal government and by deleting this bipartisan, independent commission, Democrats ensure that only the President's hand-picked commission will be digging into any failures of his own Interior Department appointees. ... ", Hastings said.
Not to be satisfied with merely stripping the bill of its original purpose, the Democrats have proceeded to do what comes naturally to Democrats: raising taxes, killing domestic energy security, killing jobs, and creating slush funds for future pork-barrelers to wallow in. Among the bill's provisions:
- Imposes job-killing changes and higher taxes for onshore natural gas and oil production. ...
- Creates over $30 billion in new mandatory spending for two programs that have nothing to do with the oil spill ... Democrats added brand new language that expressly allows this $30 billion to be earmarked by the Appropriations Committee.
- Raises taxes by over $22 billion in ten years -- with the taxes eventually climbing to nearly $3 billion per year. This is a direct tax on natural gas and oil that will raise energy prices for American families and businesses, hurt domestic jobs, and increase our dependence on foreign oil. This tax only applies to U.S. oil and gas production on federal leases -- giving an advantage to foreign oil and hurting American energy jobs.
- Requires the federal takeover of state authority to permit in state waters, which reverses sixty years of precedent. The mismanagement, corruption and oversight failures of the federal government are being used as justification to expand federal control by seizing management from the states.
- Allows 10% of all offshore revenues -- an amount possibly as high as $500 million per year -- to be spent on a new fund controlled by the Interior Secretary to issue ocean research grants (ORCA fund). There is no requirement that the fund is used for the Gulf region or anything related to oil spills or offshore drilling. These funds can be earmarked.
Cross-posted at VladEnBlog.