Letters & Comments

Letters and Comments Dec 15, 2021

Dear President Biden:

In furtherance of your efforts to unleash the full potential of the nation’s economy and address the impact of rising prices on the American people, and in recognition of your acknowledgement of the essential role that the ocean plays in our economy and livelihoods, the undersigned groups representing workers, communities, and businesses from across the economy and country urge your support for using science-based and transparent processes when considering actions to manage the ocean for current and future generations.

We have become increasingly concerned by calls for the administration to establish “fully and highly protected areas” in 30% of the U.S. ocean by 2030, including through marine monuments designated under the Antiquities Act. Concerns have been further heightened by recent decisions to restore a commercial fishing prohibition in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument and join the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, which commits the United States to actions that could lead to further prohibitions.

Using the Antiquities Act to prohibit access to and economic activity in vast amounts of the U.S. ocean would needlessly harm jobs and economic activity and raise prices for Americans on everything from food and energy to beyond…

Letters and Comments Dec 2, 2021

IPAA is please to provide comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to prepare a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document with regards to governing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) , especially where it comes to the issue of incidental take. …

…While IPAA remains strongly opposed the rescission of the January 7 final rule, we hope to work with the Service as you develop a NEPA plan for the MBTA. It is not industry’s intent to circumvent our responsibilities of avoiding impacts to and protecting migratory birds and their nests. However, the January 7 final rule provided the necessary clarifying language to protect independent producers from criminal prosecution for unintended and incidental bird takes. 

Letters and Comments Dec 1, 2021

Dear Chairman Manchin,

The reconciliation text that passed the House of Representatives includes provisions of significant concern. These provisions would serve to place millions of dollars annually in new fees on energy companies that require financial flexibility to continue to produce domestic energy. Moreover, such impacts on domestic production threaten to result in greater reliance on foreign production from nations with weaker environmental standards as compared to production from U.S. federal waters and comparable regions onshore, thus contributing to carbon leakage and damaging U.S. competitiveness Measures such as these could serve to stifle U.S. production and result in further inflationary pressures on those U.S. citizens that can least afford it. These harmful provisions include but are not limited to:

  1. New per-barrel tax on domestic energy production (Sec. 70804(o))
  2. New per-acre lease fees on onshore and offshore leases (Sec. 70804(i) and (l))
  3. Royalties on extracted methane used or consumed (Sec. 70804(r))
  4. Creation of new annual pipeline fees of at least $10,000 per mile in deepwater and $1,000 per mile in shallower water (Sec. 70804(q))
  5. Increasing minimum offshore and onshore royalty rates (Sec. 70804(c))
  6. Ban on Eastern Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific leasing; (Sec. 70804(b))
  7. New and increased offshore inspection fees (Sec. 70804(m) and (n))
  8. Shortened onshore lease term lengths (Sec. 70804(h))
  9. New idled well fees (Sec. 70804(p))
  10. Repealing royalty relief authority (Sec. 70804(s))
  11. Unrestrained authority for the Secretary to withdraw lands without due process or any public input (Section 70709)
  12. Imprecisely drafted provisions to update bonding requirements and duplicative bonding provisions for idle wells (Section 71409)
  13. Multiple, duplicative per acre fees for onshore leases (71407, 71411-71414) …

Letters and Comments Nov 30, 2021

Dear Assistant Administrator Fox and Acting Assistant Secretary Pinkham:

The undersigned organizations respectfully request that you implement a virtual national roundtable to roll up regional roundtable comments and offer broader stakeholder engagement to respond to your recent request, set forth in your recent Notification of Regional Roundtable Discussions, regarding virtual regional roundtables designed to engage diverse stakeholders concerning the definition of “Waters of the United States.” We represent a diverse stakeholder community comprising agriculture, development, industrial, and state and local government organizations with a strong interest in seeing robust, transparent stakeholder engagement. Our organizations should be represented in any national slate of stakeholders and should be individually included, as is feasible using virtual platforms, in any virtual national roundtable discussion.

Objectives

A virtual national roundtable will meet the following key objectives:

  • Enabling more participation and more voices in the process to ensure the agencies receive the best ideas and account for additional, differing perspectives. The flexibility of the virtual environment enables simple inclusion of more participants.
  • Providing a ready-made event to receive direct feedback from regional slates that are not selected, thereby reducing possible criticism related to inclusivity.
  • Affording the agencies with a capstone opportunity to build transparency and report back to the broad stakeholder communities at one time on the regional differences, outcomes, experiences, and discussion points from the regional meetings.

Letters and Comments Nov 23, 2021

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife proposal to rescind the final rule titled “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Regulations for Designating Critical Habitat” that published on December 18, 2020, and became effective January 19, 2021 (“the Final Rule”). IPAA does not support the rescission and is supportive of the Service’s previous efforts to clarify language and return the Endangered Species Act (ESA) back to the original intent of the law. Unfortunately, the ESA has been used all too frequently as a tool for litigation and a vehicle to stall important development projects for years and even decades. IPAA supported the Service’s previous rule as it led to safeguard species conservation while also clarifying criteria for consistent critical habitat designation.

Letters and Comments Nov 22, 2021

Our organizations represent a diverse set of economic sectors that form the backbone of the American economy—agriculture, energy, construction, forestry, manufacturing, transportation, and other sectors. Through the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the United States has made the most significant investment in infrastructure since the New Deal. The Act will promote projects that will enable the movement of people, goods, information, and energy to support the American economy. To ensure that the Act succeeds, further efforts are needed. In order to realize this investment, the Administration should ensure an efficient and transparent NEPA review process.

We fully support the fundamental goals of NEPA to better inform agency decisions and the public’s understanding of the potential environmental impacts of federal actions. A federal permitting system that is focused and aligned with these goals is needed for timely investment to address the digital divide in rural and large urban areas, to facilitate construction of public transit to connect communities to job centers, and to build out the energy infrastructure that is essential to our economic recovery and to progress on the climate challenge, to name a few key priorities. Recognizing the importance of an effective and efficient federal permitting system—and with a show of broad bipartisan support—Congress codified the One Federal Decision policy in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, providing clarity to the regulated community concerning agency coordination of environmental reviews.2 CEQ now has a similar opportunity with this rulemaking. …

The 2020 Rule strengthened the role of NEPA in the federal decision-making process by building on decades of experience and case law to tailor implementation to the goals of the law and to foster a process that provides meaningful information to decision-makers and to the public. Indeed, the 2020 Rule made changes that codified existing case law and agency best practices or clarified requirements that had often been misinterpreted and had given rise to litigation. We urge CEQ to retain the 2020 Rule provisions, which will support increased infrastructure investment, expanded project development, and improved infrastructure permitting and leasing decisions in a manner that strengthens our economy and enhances environmental stewardship. Furthermore, retaining the current rule language will provide much needed stability in contrast to the uncertainty and expense caused by shifts between Administrations.

Letters and Comments Nov 9, 2021

Dear Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso,

We are grateful for your collective leadership in recent months to bring balance to the policy debate on energy policy. As the backbone of the American oil and natural gas industry, our respective organizations are writing to express our grave concerns with virtually every one of the provisions included in the House Committee on Natural Resources title of the Build Back Better Act. We request that the Senate strike the House language from the bill and wait for the Biden Administration’s leasing moratorium report to be released before undertaking any revision to the current federal oil and gas onshore and offshore programs.

The House language is unworkable in many ways. It is bad policy and has generated a long list of concerns which we are happy to discuss in detail with you. In short, if implemented it will:

1. Drive all but a few large industry players off federal lands and waters as it renders federal leases completely uncompetitive compared to adjacent private or state lands

2. Decrease funding significantly for conservation of federal lands, which are financed exclusively by federal oil, natural gas, and coal

3. Reduce competition as well as innovation in both the onshore and offshore industry

4. Widen the income gap between urban and rural communities

5. Fail in its overly optimistic revenue projections, adding billions to the deficit.

Letters and Comments, Methane Sep 13, 2021

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

On behalf of the companies and associations that make up the natural gas supply chain and the 180 million Americans and the 5.5 million businesses that rely on natural gas, we would like to express our concerns about Section 30114—the Environmental Protection Agency Methane Fee—included in Subtitle A of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s reconciliation package—the Build Back Better Act. Through numerous programs and initiatives, our companies are at the forefront of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including methane. Moreover, natural gas is responsible for 61% of cumulative carbon dioxide emissions savings due to changes in the electricity generation fuel mix.

As we highlighted in our letter dated September 7, 2021, new fees or taxes on energy companies will raise costs for customers, creating a burden that will fall most heavily on lower-income Americans. These major new costs most likely will result in higher bills for natural gas customers, including families, small businesses, and power generators. Over the last week, three variations of the methane tax have been introduced with our analysis showing increases to customer natural gas bills ranging from 12% to 18% to 34%, with the average cost from $85- $242 per year. Without a serious cost-benefit analysis, the impact to the consumer, and more broadly, to the economy and the environment are unknown. We appreciate the efforts to address methane emissions, but the unintended consequences of this tax could prove harmful to families across the country with little environmental benefit.

These outcomes are inconsistent with President Biden’s commitment to pay for reconciliation without imposing new taxes on lower-income Americans. One-third of households already face a challenge in meeting energy needs, according to the Energy Information Administration. In a 2015 survey, 25 million households reported forgoing food and medicine to pay energy bills. According to the Department of Energy’s Low-Income Energy Affordability Data (LEAD) tool, the national average energy burden for low-income households—upwards of 50 million homes— is three times higher than non-low-income households. Furthermore, the energy burden can be as high as 30% of gross household income, depending on location and income. Any increase in low-income households’ energy costs could prove devastating. …

Letters and Comments, Methane Sep 12, 2021

Dear Chairman Pallone and Ranking Member McMorris Rodgers:

Last week, the undersigned organizations wrote to you to oppose the Methane Emissions Reduction Act of 2021, introduced by Senators Whitehouse, Booker, and Schatz in March 2021, and its inclusion in the reconciliation package as a punitive pay-for targeted solely on the oil and natural gas industry that would harm the U.S. economy and cost good-paying American jobs. The good news is that the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) slated for a full committee markup in the Energy and Commerce Committee tomorrow has not adopted the fundamentally flawed Methane Emissions Reduction Act. The bad news is that the BBBA includes a methane fee that is equally problematic.

The Methane Emissions Reduction Act’s default tax on methane was steep at $1,800 per ton. The amount of the BBBA methane tax remains significant at $1,500 per ton. Given natural gas and petroleum together account for nearly 70% of energy consumption in the U.S., new taxes on the industry are likely to have a ripple effect across the U.S. economy – at a time when inflation is already skyrocketing.

The scope of oil and gas facilities subject to the tax is unclear. The legislation instructs EPA to lower the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) reporting threshold for oil and gas facilities from the current threshold of 25,000 metric tons of GHGs to 10,000 metric tons of GHGs. The number of facilities and the emission profile of those facilities that fall between the 10,000 and 25,000 metric tons limits are unknown. Additionally, the resulting emission and cost impacts of lowering the reporting threshold cannot be estimated. What is certain, however, is that a substantial number of smaller operators who have never before been subject to EPA’s GHGRP will not only be subject to EPA reporting regulations, but also a new targeted tax. …

Letters and Comments, Methane Sep 8, 2021

Dear Chairman Carper and Ranking Member Capito,

As the Senate develops a reconciliation package, ensuring Americans have access to affordable and reliable energy while continuing to reduce emissions should be top of mind. Unfortunately, the Methane Emissions Reduction Act of 2021, first introduced by Senators Whitehouse, Booker, and Schatz in March 2021 and being considered for inclusion in the reconciliation bill as a payfor, would levy an unreasonable, punitive fee on methane emissions only from oil and natural gas facilities that could jeopardize affordable and reliable energy with likely little reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The bill would tax methane emissions at a default rate of $1,800 per ton in 2023, increasing 5% above inflation annually, with fees for individual companies assessed via a complicated formula based on their share of production or handling (not actual emissions) and the average emissions intensity in the oil and gas basin in which they operate. Alternatively, companies could engage in a likely costly and burdensome process of tracking their own emissions. The bill also includes an import fee which will be levied on each company that imports crude oil, natural gas, or natural gas liquids into the United States. The import fee could likely raise consumer costs, distort markets, and could incentivize retaliatory actions from our trading partners. The bill has never been the subject of a Congressional hearing, and therefore never scrutinized or debated among lawmakers. Congress has never discussed the potential impacts of the methane fee on consumers or the U.S. energy market. …

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