Feingold, Dodd, Menendez Introduce 'Use It Or Lose It' Bill To Spur Oil Production

Feingold, Dodd, Menendez Introduce 'Use It Or Lose It' Bill To Spur Oil Production

Legislation Would Spur Oil Companies to Develop the nearly 70 Million Acres Already Leased Before New Leases Are Granted

Washington - Today, U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced legislation sending an important message to oil companies about the federal land they lease for oil development - use it or lose it. The legislation, entitled the Responsible Federal Oil and Gas Lease Act, would spur oil companies to develop the nealy 70 million acres of federal land they currently lease but have not developed to produce oil. The bill, which is similar to legislation introduced in the House by Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), mandates that oil companies either produce on or seek to develop their existing federal leases, or relinquish the leases. The bill ensures that companies take reasonable steps to produce oil and gas on federal lands and waters within a lease's term. The Senators are also supporting the Responsible Ownership of Public Lands Act, introduced by Dodd and cosponsored by Feingold and Menendez, to place an escalating fee on leases of federal land that lie unused.

"While energy prices soar, oil companies are saying there's nothing they can do," Feingold said. "Yet these companies hold the leases to sixty-six million acres of federal land that they haven't developed. That just doesn't add up."

"For years, oil companies have been sitting on millions of acres - doing nothing to develop them for drilling - while hardworking Americans grapple with skyrocketing prices at the pump," Dodd said. "By introducing this legislation today, Senators Feingold, Menendez, and I are acting to hold these companies accountable for the unused acreage they already lease and reject the false argument that opening up new acreage to drilling will solve our energy problems."

Senator Menendez said: "For far too long, our government has held the oil companies' hands rather than holding them accountable. In this time of astronomical gas prices, all George Bush and John McCain can think of is to give another handout to oil companies that are already sitting on almost 70 million acres of unused land. No accountability, no crackdown on oil speculation, no real commitment to renewable energy or advanced alternative fuels. American families are getting squeezed, and they deserve a government that works for them, not for the oil companies."

While some are calling for opening up more federal lands for drilling, the oil companies have not explained why they have not produced on over three-quarters (or 66 out of the 86 million acres) of federal lands and waters they currently lease. Federal lands and waters with oil and gas resources that are already available for leasing contain over 100 billion barrels of oil.