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Capital Report


Subpoenas Issued to Interior Department For Gulf of Mexico Moratorium Documents
The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee authorized in March its chairman, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), to issue subpoenas to the Department of the Interior for oversight investigations regarding a department report implying the endorsement of peer reviewers from the National Academy of Engineers for an offshore oil and gas drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico. The committee requested the documents more than a year ago, and the Interior Department had not complied.

On April 3, Hastings issued a subpoena to the Interior's Office of the Inspector General for communications, including 13 specific documents, related to the drilling moratorium in the gulf, and he issued a follow-up subpoena on April 11 after the inspector general did not comply with the initial subpoena. There is a one-week response deadline for the latest subpoena.

According to Hastings, the Interior's inspector general tried to provide six of the 13 documents to the committee in May 2011 and the remaining seven in August 2011, but the department blocked the process.

Hearing Examines NOP's Potential Effect on Alaska
The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing in Anchorage, Alaska, in April to focus on how the National Ocean Policy's (NOP) mandating of ocean zoning would affect Alaska's economy.

The NOP calls for a new coastal and marine spatial planning authority to be headed by nine regional planning bodies staffed by the federal government. The ocean zoning authority would regulate inland affairs in relation to marine waters. Critics are concerned that the regional planning bodies would have too great of an industry reach, result in a negative impact on Alaska's economy and have no representation from local communities.

Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf is estimated to hold 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, Kara Moriarty, Alaska Oil and Gas Association executive director, said, adding that developing these resources would lead to an annual average of 54,000 new jobs over 50 years, $145 billion in payroll nationwide and $193 billion in revenues to state, local and federal governments.

Doug Vincent-Lang, acting director of Alaska's Division of Wildlife Conservation of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, testified that the state's fishing industry produces almost $6 billion in economic activity annually, accounts for approximately 60 percent of U.S. seafood production and is the state's largest private-sector employer.

'Overlaying the president's National Ocean Policy on top of the existing statutory and regulatory framework creates uncertainty and conflict, both of which are problematic if the goal is to encourage economic development, jobs and certainty in permitting,' he said.

Rick Rogers, executive director of the Resources Development Council for Alaska, said, 'All Alaska industries, forestry, tourism, oil and gas, fisheries and mining, are highly dependent on ocean access and marine transportation. ... The decline of the timber industry in Alaska highlights our need to be ever vigilant regarding the unintended consequences of policy initiatives such as the National Ocean Policy and coastal and marine spatial planning.'

Naval Community Criticizes Sequestration
The Navy League outlined how to provide for the needs of the maritime community in a policy report highlighting the importance of shipbuilding, including aircraft carriers, to create and maintain a credible maritime presence and grow the economy. The report says that every $100 in defense spending generates about $125 of economic activity.

The maritime policy statement, released in March, urged policymakers to prioritize maritime forces even during a time of budget cuts. It states the Navy League's support of the Maritime Security Act, which buttresses the U.S. commercial fleet in international trade and the merchant marine for national defense and economic security, and the Jones Act and Passenger Vessel Act, which protect critical national infrastructure and add sealift capacity through an expanded pool of trained and experienced mariners for crewing U.S. sealift assets and helping to sustain the U.S. shipbuilding and repair industrial base.

The U.S. Navy League, the Shipbuilder's Council of America and the Aircraft Carrier Industrial Base Coalition cohosted a meeting, also in March, to discuss the importance of shipbuilding to national and economic security. Attendees expressed their concerns about sequestration, which requires automatic spending cuts to limit the budget.

'While we fully understand the difficult choices facing our elected officials, this is exactly the wrong time to jeopardize our long-term economic and national security by allowing sequestration to take effect,' said Dale Lumme, the Navy League's national executive director.

House Discusses Gas Prices, Domestic Oil
An April hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology examined technology and policy pathways to develop more domestic unconventional oil resources, such as oil shale and sand. Witnesses were asked to comment on such topics as the economic impacts of high energy prices, the factors that shape oil and gasoline markets, and the regulatory hurdles that affect production. Prices are estimated to remain close to $4 per gallon throughout the summer.

'Faced with a direct and urgent opportunity to address U.S. oil supply and infrastructure concerns, the President opposes drilling in ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge], restricts development in the Gulf of Mexico and Outer Continental Shelf, rejects the Keystone XL pipeline and blocks over a million acres of public land from oil shale development,' Committee Chairman Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) said regarding the steps needed to reduce gasoline prices.

After the hearing, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) said, 'Now that the two witnesses who actually work at oil companies answer without hesitation that the president is not the cause of high gas prices, I hope that those on the other side of the aisle who have persisted in making such a false claim will finally cease and desist.'


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