updated May 18, 2006
The U.S. House of Representatives is now expected to debate and vote Thursday, May 18, on the 2007 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill. The bill contains an exemption for natural gas from the decades old language prohibiting the Department of the Interior from spending money on leasing activity on most of the federal OCS - aka, the Peterson Amendment.
This will, if it survives an amendment to strike it from the bill, effectively remove the appropriators from the policy equation. But for actual leasing to take place there must be legislation passed by the authorizing committee, House Resources, that permits natural gas leases, opens the OCS and affords states a share in royalty revenues. The Peterson language in the '07 Interior spending bill will keep the momentum going forward toward getting an OCS bill enacted in this Congress. Please contact your delegation offices and urge them to vote NO on any amendment to strip the Peterson language.
You can also send a letter/email in support of allowing greater access to OCS natural gas supplies by clicking here.
The following is excerpted from Congressman Collin Peterson's (D-Minn.) "Dear Colleague" to other members of the House of Representatives on the importance of accessing new natural gas supplies and the upcoming Appropriations vote:
Americans typically pay the highest prices in the world for natural gas.
Even with this winter's warm weather, consumers still saw their heating bills rise 24% from last year; and this impacts seniors and others on fixed incomes more than anyone.
Across the country, applications to state energy-assistance programs are up; and public schools, hospitals, and churches are turning down their thermostats and spending less on field trips, medical equipment, and community services.
Higher natural gas prices also find their way into the prices of every day consumer goods, as natural gas is used to melt, bend, smelt, flatten, and shape nearly every steel and plastic product we use; and is used as an ingredient in everything from face creams to carpets.
- Farmers use natural gas for irrigation, crop drying, food processing, crop protection and nitrogen fertilizer production.
- But unlike most industries, farmers can't pass along high energy costs to consumers - the price they're paid is largely fixed.
- Over 100,000 chemical jobs have been lost over the past five years because of high natural gas costs.
- Of the 120 chemical factories under production worldwide, 119 are being built outside the U.S.
- The more consumers have to pay on heating and cooling costs, the less they can spend on goods and services provided by this nation's 32 million small businesses.
- And small businesses using natural gas to dry, melt, mold, or heat products are in even bigger trouble.
- American manufacturing was hit hard by a steep climb in natural gas prices since 2000, losing jobs for 43 consecutive months - totaling over 3 million net jobs lost.
- Natural Gas accounts for 70 to 80% of the cost of fertilizers, which will drive the cost of agriculture products up while destroying our fertilizer industry.
- 21 plants in the United States have closed since 2000 because of the high cost of natural gas.