Energy Fine Print

As Democrats in the House and Senate rolled out new bills that respond to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, there were some interesting details for those who wanted to read the legislative language.
Some of the best stuff was located deep into the House bill that seems likely to come up for a vote on Friday, under the title labeled “Miscellaneous Provisions.”
Section 802 was labeled “Conservation Fee”.  Any time I see the word “fee”, it makes me sit up and re-focus.
This fee would be levied on the extraction of oil and gas from all onshore and offshore leases offered by the federal government.
In other words, any oil or natural gas that comes from federal lands would be subject to a new fee from Uncle Sam.
For oil, it would be $2 per barrel.
For gas, it would be 20 cents per million BTU.
And the even more interesting part is that the gas levy would be in “2010 dollars,” which almost seems to index the cost for the future.
While the House seems likely to approve its wide-ranging bill, Senate efforts on energy seem likely to run into the Legislative Ditch, with less than 60 votes in support of the plan.
GOP Senators groused about the lack of information on the over 400 page bill that was unveiled on Tuesday night by Democrats, criticizing both the process and the details involved, arguing that the bill is filled with items that are opposed by Republicans.
In other words, this bill seems to be on its way toward gridlock.