Rahall Eyes Oil and Gas Addition to Climate Bill

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". . .when we're talking about energy, it should be in a comprehensive piece of legislation."

House Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) hopes to add a major oil and gas title to the Democratic energy and climate bill, but it remains unclear whether he will get the chance as House leaders aim to speed the bill's progress.

Rahall's staff last month circulated (pdf) that would raise onshore royalty rates, end the royalty-in-kind program, overhaul planning and regulation for onshore and outer continental shelf energy development, and impose a series of ethics reforms, among other features.

"I'd prefer to have it attached to the climate bill, because when we're talking about energy, it should be in a comprehensive piece of legislation," Rahall told E&E yesterday.

But the path forward for the proposal is uncertain. The bill has not yet been formally introduced, and Rahall said it is being prepared so that "if asked to include it as part of climate change, we'll be ready rather than go through a crammed session to get it ready."

The bill would require a far-reaching reorganization of the Interior Department.

The draft would consolidate all energy and mineral leasing programs currently in the Bureau of Land Management and Minerals Management Service into one agency in Interior that would handle lease sales, inspection, enforcement and revenue collection for traditional and renewable energy. The agency would be called the Office of Federal Energy and Minerals Leasing.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the measure is under review.

"We also have our own thoughts about organization within the department," he said yesterday. "We are in the process of developing what our position will be relative to MMS and the BLM and how we move forward with leasing of our public lands both onshore and offshore. And also taking a look at how we collect revenues, both onshore and offshore."

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