November 19, 2008
By BRETT CLANTON
THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Energy policy issues may not have the same momentum they did this summer, when gasoline prices reached $4 a gallon, but the incoming Obama administration and Democratic Congress would do well to recognize that the oil and gas industry still has a role to play in getting the U.S. economy back on track, the industry’s top lobbyist said Wednesday.
Expanded oil and gas drilling not only could increase domestic energy supplies and reduce dependence on foreign oil, it also would create jobs and boost government coffers, Jack N. Gerard, the new chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, told reporters during a media briefing in Houston.
Big royalty take
He estimates state and federal governments eventually could collect $880 billion in oil and gas royalty money from existing leases and areas that are now off-limits to drilling. . .
This week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland suggested that the Democratic leadership would not seek to re-impose the congressional ban on oil and natural gas leasing in federal waters, which was allowed to expire last summer.
Yet the oil and gas industry does not have the same tailwind on the issue as it did this summer, when oil prices reached nearly $150 a barrel and pump prices topped $4 nationwide, said Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
“The recognition of the need is still there, but the urgency is not what it was,” he said.
To get the ear of lawmakers, the industry should broaden its approach, balancing its call for increased access to domestic oil and gas supplies with promotion of energy efficiency and conservation, he said.
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