The Worst (so far) Congressional Collusion with Frackers

A penny for your thoughts? But, if they're about drilling, speaking up will cost you $5,000. The United States House of Representatives has passed HR-1965, a cornucopia of anti-environmental provisions, including:

  • Requiring a $5,000 fee from anyone who protests the granting of a lease, right of way or drilling permit (for public lands);
  • Mandating the Secretary of the Interior to offer leases on at least 25% of any acreage that is "nominated" for new leasing, every year;
  • Establishing a "Federal Permit Streamlining Project" in every Bureau of Land Management office;
  • Restricting the grounds upon which the Secretary can deny a permit application; and
  • Stipulating that ANY application will be deemed "approved" if the Department of the Interior has not formally denied it within 60 days of its filing. [This deadline is initially 30 days, but can be extended in 15-day increments if the Secretary complies with certain procedures.]

A proposed amendment (by Rep. Lee, D-TX) to reconcile the $5,000 "protest fee" with First Amendment rights to Freedom of Speech was defeated.

HB-1965 is titled the "Federal Land Jobs and Energy Security Act." It was sponsored by Rep. Lanborn (R-CO) and co-sponsored by Reps. Duncan (R-SC) and Cramer (R-SD). The oil and gas industry is the major campaign contributor to these three Congressmen.

The Pennsylvania delegation voted along party lines (Republicans "for", Democrats "against") except for Rep. Bill Shuster (R., 9th District), who was recorded as "Not Voting." Congress-watchers in the environmental establishment give the bill no chance of passage in the Senate. Still, you might want to contact your Representative about his/her vote on HB-1965.

For a pro-extraction rationale on this legislation, see "BLM, Stop Dithering over Federal Oil and Gas Leases: Why the Leases Must Be Issued within 60 Days", by David B. Hatch, JD. [Note: Although David B Hatch lives in Utah, he is not (to our knowledge) related to Senator Orrin Hatch from that state.]