A bipartisan Congressional Energy Working Group has unveiled a plan that would open up offshore oil and gas exploration but would target the revenues to improve infrastructure, create jobs and invest in clean coal technology and renewable energy sources.
The working group is led by Congressmen Tim Murphy and Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, Tim Walz of Minnesota and Jim Costa of California.
"It's clear the House is passing bills to open up offshore drilling. It's clear the Senate won't taken them up and the White House won't respond to them," said Murphy.
So, the group has unveiled legislation that it says will secure the nation's energy future, put Americans back to work and rebuild the infrastructure without raising taxes or increasing the national debt.
Murphy says "The Infrastructure Jobs and Energy Independence Act" would allow the safe, responsible expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration and dedicates the $2.2 to $3.7 trillion in new federal revenues from royalties and leasing rights fees to cut the deficit, invest in clean coal and nuclear technology, clean up the environment, increase funding for renewable and alternative energy sources, and rebuild crumbling highways and bridges.
The Congressman from Pittsburgh's South Hills says everyone wants clean air, land and water......."We can't clean up our coal plants and build clean nuclear plants or wind or solar because we don't have the money for them unless we open up some of these (offshore) areas for drilling and use the money from those without raising taxes, but use the fees and that could pay for all we need to do."
The U.S. continues to spend $1 billion a day to import 60% of its oil and the Congressional Working Group says U.S. offshore resources are enough to replace oil imports from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia for the next 80 years.
The revenues would also be used for tax credits to reduce energy waste by buildings, "the average building may waste 20 to 40% of the energy it buys," says Murphy.
He says this proposal has the backing of many groups including industry and labor and he's hoping for bipartisan support in the House and Senate because unlike other House legislation that just opens up offshore drilling, this is a comprehensive package that addresses the deficit, job creation, infrastructure, and renewable and alternative energy sources.
Murphy says from the time this is approved to the time "gas gets in your gas tank," it will be about 5 years, but revenues from leasing could start in about 2 years.