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Speech by Senator Ken Salazar

Date: 07/06/2006
Location: Denver, CO

Sen. Salazar Will Push Legislation for Increased Oil and Gas from Gulf Coast Region to Ease Energy Needs

Gas prices in Colorado have reached three dollars per gallon and the people of Colorado feel the pain at the pump. These continued high prices underscore the need for a multi-pronged approach to our energy needs. One of those prongs is increased development of our oil and gas reserves, particularly in our Gulf Coast region. Today, Senator Ken Salazar discussed legislation that opens up federal lands offshore in the Gulf Coast to increased oil and gas development while at the same time providing increased revenue to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This legislation is expected to be debated and voted on in the U.S. Senate in July.

A bipartisan bill passed out of committee would make an additional million acres in the Gulf Coast available for oil and gas development on federal lands known as lease area 181. Under the proposal, natural gas production in lease area 181 is estimated to begin within 5-6 years, and oil production is estimated to begin within 10 years.

"Our energy needs are not going to go away and in fact are going to increase," said Senator Ken Salazar. "We need to initiate a multi-pronged approach to our energy needs that includes conservation, increased energy efficiency and renewable fuel consumption, new technologies and responsible development of oil and gas resources. This legislation, if passed, will not solve our energy crisis but it will lessen our dependence on foreign oil and keep pace with growing demand."

Senator Salazar also said he is working to include his bipartisan legislation that would permanently and fully fund the stateside Land and Water Conservation Fund grants program. Together, these two legislative proposals would provide American consumers with more natural gas and oil while at the same time ensuring the protection of important open space and conservation of our natural heritage.

"We need to continue with responsible oil and gas development but we should also use that development to protect our natural areas," said Senator Salazar. "My amendment, which would use oil gas revenues for natural resource protection, would strike a balance between energy development and conservation. My amendment would ensure that LWCF can fulfill its mission, so that we and future generations can continue to enjoy the great outdoors."

According to recent mean estimates from the Minerals Management Service, there are 930 million barrels of oil and 6.03 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the entire 3.6 million acre area covered by this legislation.

Senator Salazar is working with his colleagues in the Senate to expand the scope of this legislation to include additional oil and gas leases on federal land south and west of lease sale area 181, in an area known as lease area 181 South. That area would open up an additional 2.16 Tcf of natural gas and 0.52 bbl of oil.

Source: http://salazar.senate.gov/news/releases/060706gas.htm.

Alaska natural gas pipeline photo courtesy Federal State Joint Pipeline Office