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112th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
1st Session 112-249
NATIONAL PETROLEUM RESERVE ALASKA ACCESS ACT
October 14, 2011.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the
State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Hastings of Washington, from the Committee on Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 2150]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred
the bill (H.R. 2150) to amend the Naval Petroleum Reserves
Production Act of 1976 to direct the Secretary of the Interior
to conduct an expeditious program of competitive leasing of oil
and gas in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, including
at least one lease sale in the Reserve each year in the period
2011 through 2021, and for other purposes, having considered
the same, report favorably thereon without amendment and
recommend that the bill do pass.
Purpose of the Bill
The purpose of H.R. 2150 is to amend the Naval Petroleum
Reserves Production Act of 1976 to direct the Secretary of the
Interior to conduct an expeditious program of competitive
leasing of oil and gas in the National Petroleum Reserve in
Alaska, including at least one lease sale in the Reserve each
year in the period 2011 through 2021.
Background and Need for Legislation
A large portion of Alaska's abundant natural resources are
located in the National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska (NPRA).
Unfortunately, regulatory delays, administrative roadblocks,
and bureaucratic red tape have greatly decreased the amount of
oil and natural gas production in Alaska and have prevented new
discoveries from being utilized. Furthermore, permitting issues
and regulatory uncertainty have plagued developers. Even basic
infrastructure projects to facilitate the transport of products
to the lower 48 states face years of regulatory hurdles.
In 2008, the Department of the Interior anticipated that
production from the NPRA would finally be realized. However,
actions taken by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
blocking the issuance of permits have delayed that production
For example, EPA declared the Colville River Delta an
``aquatic resource of national importance'' after applications
were filed to build a bridge over the river to provide access
to the Conoco-Phillips development project in the NPRA. EPA
then used the designation to deny and override an Army Corps of
Engineers section 404 permit under the Clean Water Act. Conoco-
Phillips has been waiting for six years to receive a permit to
construct a single bridge to deliver oil to the American
In addition, the refusal of the Obama Administration to
offer leases and issue permits for infrastructure has delayed
the production of crude oil and natural gas. The Obama
Administration approved only one quarter the number of new
leases in its second year as were approved in the second year
of the Clinton Administration and about half the number of
leases as in the second year of the Bush Administration.
This legislation will ensure the regular occurrence of
lease sales and expeditious permit review for infrastructure
construction to allow for the production and delivery of crude
oil and natural gas for the American people.
Another factor important to accessing the oil and gas in
NPRA is the 800-mile-long Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS),
one of the world's largest pipelines. TAPS stretches from
Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope to Valdez, the northernmost
ice-free port in North America. Since the pipeline's startup in
1977, Alyeska--TAPS' operator--has successfully transported
more than 16 billion barrels of oil.
At its peak of production, Prudhoe Bay produced 2.1 million
barrels of oil per day that was transported via TAPS, providing
one-third of the Nation's oil production. Today, approximately
620,000 barrels of oil per day flow through TAPS. Without new
production from Alaska's North Slope, NPRA, and the Beaufort
and Chukchi Seas, there will not be enough oil flowing through
the pipeline to sustain it. If the pipeline shuts down because
oil production has not been allowed to take place, the pipeline
system will have to be removed, thus eliminating a valuable
national resource and leaving billions of barrels of American
oil stranded in the North Slope of Alaska.
H.R. 2150 was introduced on June 13, 2011, by Congressman
Doc Hastings (R-WA). The bill was referred to the Committee on
Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the Subcommittee
on Energy and Mineral Resources. On June 16, 2011, the
Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing on
the bill. On July 13, 2011, the Natural Resources Committee met
to consider the bill. The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral
Resources was discharged by unanimous consent. Congressman Ben
Lujan (D-NM) offered an amendment designated .001; the
amendment was not adopted by a roll call vote of 18-24, as
The bill was ordered favorably reported to the House of
Representatives by a bipartisan roll call vote of 28-14, as
Section 1. Short title
This Act may be cited as the ``National Petroleum Reserve
Alaska Access Act.''
Section 2. Sense of Congress and reaffirming national policy for the
National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska
This section reaffirms the sense of Congress that the
purpose of the NPRA is to provide oil and natural gas resources
for the United States. It also affirms the national policy is
to facilitate production from the NPRA by expediting
exploration, production and transportation of oil and natural
gas resources through the NPRA.
Section 3. National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska; lease sales
This section requires the Secretary of the Interior to
conduct at least one lease sale annually in areas of the NPRA
most likely to produce commercial quantities of oil and natural
gas from 2011 to 2021.
Section 4. National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska; planning and
permitting pipeline and road construction
This section directs the Secretary of the Interior to issue
permits for all surface development activities, such as
pipelines and roads, necessary to develop the NPRA and
transport oil and natural gas from the Reserve the North Slope
to be transported through TAPS for the American people. Permits
for the construction of transportation facilities for oil and
gas under existing leases must be approved within 60 days of
enactment. New permits must be approved within 6 months. Within
270 days after enactment the Secretary must submit a plan to
Congress for approved rights-of-way for surface infrastructure
to ensure all leasable tracts of land are within 25 miles of an
approved road and pipeline.
Section 5. Departmental accountability for development
This section requires the Secretary of the Interior to
issue regulations within 180 days of enactment that establishes
requirements to ensure Interior facilitates the timely
development of the NPRA, including response timelines in
corresponding with permit applicants and issuing permits. If
the Secretary fails to comply with permit deadlines, the
Department will be required to notify the applicant with
information regarding reasons for the permit delay.
Section 6. Updated resource assessment
This section requires an assessment of recoverable fossil
fuel resources in the NPRA.
Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations
Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of
Rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.
Compliance With House Rule XIII
1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(2)(B)
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the
Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Under clause 3(c)(3) of rule
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section
403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has
received the following cost estimate for this bill from the
Director of the Congressional Budget Office:
H.R. 2150--National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act
H.R. 2150 would require the Secretary of the Interior to
conduct certain activities aimed at facilitating the
development of oil and gas in the National Petroleum Reserve in
Alaska (NPR-A). Based on information from the Department of the
Interior and assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts,
CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would cost $2
million over the 2012-2013 period. Enacting H.R. 2150 would not
affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go
procedures do not apply.
The bill would require the United States Geological Survey
(USGS) to complete a comprehensive assessment of oil and gas
resources in the NPR-A. The agency recently completed many of
the assessments that would be required under the bill. Based on
information from the agency, CBO expects that, under the bill,
USGS would need to complete two additional assessments. Based
on information regarding the cost of similar USGS assessments
and assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, we
estimate that those assessments would cost $1 million a year
for 2012 and 2013.
H.R. 2150 also would require the Bureau of Land Management
(BLM) to conduct annual lease sales in the NPR-A. Historically,
such sales have been held every two years; however, because the
agency is planning to conduct annual sales beginning in 2011,
CBO estimates that implementing this provision would not affect
the federal budget.
Finally, the bill would require BLM to issue permits more
quickly than required under current law for infrastructure
projects related to the transport of oil in the NPR-A. Based on
information from BLM, CBO estimates that implementing this
provision would not affect the federal budget because the
agency could meet the new requirement without hiring any
H.R. 2150 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Jeff LaFave
and Dubary Brea. The estimate was approved by Peter H.
Fontaine, Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
2. Section 308(a) of Congressional Budget Act. As required
by clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of
Representatives and section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget
Act of 1974, this bill does not contain any new spending
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in
revenues or tax expenditures. Based on information from the
Department of the Interior and assuming appropriation of the
necessary amounts, CBO estimates that implementing the
legislation would cost $2 million over the 2012-2013 period.
Enacting H.R. 2150 would not affect direct spending or
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. This bill does
not authorize funding and therefore, clause 3(c)(4) of rule
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives does not
This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks,
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of
the House of Representatives.
Compliance With Public Law 104-4
This bill contains no unfunded mandates.
Preemption of State, Local or Tribal Law
This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported
In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is
proposed is shown in roman):
NAVAL PETROLEUM RESERVES PRODUCTION ACT OF 1976
* * * * * * *
TITLE I--NATIONAL PETROLEUM RESERVE IN ALASKA
* * * * * * *
SEC. 107. COMPETITIVE LEASING OF OIL AND GAS.
[(a) In General.--The Secretary shall conduct an expeditious
program of competitive leasing of oil and gas in the Reserve in
accordance with this Act.]
(a) In General.--The Secretary shall conduct an expeditious
program of competitive leasing of oil and gas in the reserve in
accordance with this Act. Such program shall include at least
one lease sale annually in those areas of the reserve most
likely to produce commercial quantities of oil and natural gas
each year in the period 2011 through 2021.
* * * * * * *
Democrats support responsible drilling in the National
Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPR-A). However, we oppose H.R. 2150
because it would prevent the Department of the Interior from
conducting proper review of oil and gas drilling activities in
the NPR-A by imposing artificial and unnecessary deadlines.
Despite the fact that there are no pending applications
with the Bureau of Land Management to construct roads and
pipelines, H.R. 2150 would set an arbitrary clock to issue such
permits. This provision could prohibit proper NEPA review of
proposals to construct major oil and gas pipelines in the
Reserve in the future. This directive would also appear to
require the Interior Department to compel other Cabinet-level
agencies to act, something far beyond the scope of the
H.R. 2150 would further require the Secretary to develop
regulations to require action on drilling permits within 60
days. However, this provision is largely unnecessary because
existing regulations already place a timeframe on the
Department of 90 days to consider applications to drill in the
NPR-A. Moreover, there are currently no pending applications at
the Bureau of Land Management for permits to drill in the NPR-A
and oil companies have actually been relinquishing their leases
in the Reserve.
H.R. 2150 would also waste taxpayer resources by requiring
the Interior Department to conduct unnecessary and duplicative
studies. The legislation would require the BLM to develop a
plan to ``ensure that all leasable tracts in the Reserve are
within 25 miles of an approved road and pipeline right-of-
way.'' Requiring the BLM to map out a spider-web of roads and
pipelines across the entire reserve before we even know where
future oil and gas production may take place would be wasteful
H.R. 2150 would also require the U.S. Geological Survey to
complete an assessment of the technically recoverable oil and
gas in the Reserve. The USGS just completed such an assessment
of the undiscovered oil and gas reserves in the NPR-A in
October of 2010 and also completed a study of the economically
recoverable oil and gas in the Reserve earlier this year.
According to the USGS, the average cost of an oil and gas
assessment is $2.75 million. We shouldn't be wasting millions
of taxpayer dollars to require the USGS to redo an assessment
completed less than one year ago, as the majority's legislation
During the markup, Representative Lujan offered an
amendment to ensure that all of the oil and gas produced from
the NPR-A would stay in America to help American consumers and
businesses. The Republican Majority rejected this common sense
amendment in a straight party line vote. Representative
Garamendi is also working to ensure that the infrastructure
used to conduct drilling activities in the NPR-A is American
made to help our economy and industry.
President Obama and House Democrats have already taken
steps to encourage drilling in the NPR-A. Building on
legislation introduced by House Democrats earlier this year,
President Obama announced in May that he would direct the
Department of the Interior to conduct annual lease sales in the
NPR-A and the Department is already moving forward on that
schedule. While H.R. 2150 includes a similar requirement to
hold at least one lease sale per year in the NPR-A, we should
make sure that we are drilling in challenging environments like
the Arctic responsibly, not seeking to truncate proper review
as this bill would do. We therefore oppose this effort.
Edward J. Markey.
Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan.
Colleen W. Hanabusa.
Grace F. Napolitano.
Frank Pallone, Jr.
Ben R. Lujan.
Raul M. Grijalva.