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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

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [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 
indefinitely.
    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 
people.
    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.

                            Committee Action

    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 
follows:



    The bill was ordered favorably reported to the House of 
Representatives by a bipartisan roll call vote of 28-14, as 
follows:



                      Section-by-Section Analysis


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 
additional staff.
    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 
apply.

                           Earmark Statement

    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 
tribal law.

         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.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    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 
Secretary's authority.
    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 
and counterproductive.
    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 
would do.
    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.
                                   Rush Holt.
                                   Grace F. Napolitano.
                                   Niki Tsongas.
                                   Frank Pallone, Jr.
                                   Betty Sutton.
                                   Ben R. Lujan.
                                   Raul M. Grijalva.