House Committee Passes Bill to Reform Oil and Gas Industry
On July 15th, the House Natural Resources Committee reported out the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act (CLEAR) of 2010. The bill, introduced by Chairman Rahall (3rd-WV), would go a long way toward reforming how the oil and gas industry operates to ensure that a disaster of the magnitude of the BP Gulf spill never happens again.
That disaster is a daily reminder of just how dangerous our addiction to fossil fuels is - and how dirty the oil and gas industry remains. Far from being the creator of good jobs that the industry portrays itself as, BP has now put thousands of people out of work and the economy of the entire Gulf region hangs in the balance. Boat operators are out of work; commercial and recreational fishing is shut down in many places; hotels and restaurants stand empty.
The CLEAR Act has many provisions that would specifically address the Gulf spill and its origins. To begin with it would codify the administration's decision to abolish the Minerals Management Service and create three separate agencies that would deal with leasing, revenue collection, and regulatory oversight and enforcement. The bill also contains many important regulatory and financial reforms for the oil and gas industry both offshore and onshore, increased safety measures for offshore operations, improvements to the development process for wind and solar power on federal lands, and provisions to assist with Gulf restoration. Additionally, the CLEAR Act includes provisions to help protect wildlife in a warming world and would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a vital source of money for restoration projects.
The CLEAR Act still has many hurdles before it can go to the full House floor for a vote but it is a significant piece of legislation that has already come a long way. The Sierra Club will continue fighting for the necessary reforms to a dirty and dangerous industry.