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Proposed legislation aims to increase energy development

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Some New Mexico oil and gas and business leaders are watching the progress of a Congressional bill designed to increase oil and gas development opportunities and to give states more control over oil and gas activities on federal lands.

The SECURE American Energy Act, or HR 4239, has passed the House Committee on Natural Resources. One of its 16 co-sponsors is Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs). Rep. Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, was among those who introduced the legislation in early November.

The bill seeks to expand opportunities for oil, gas and wind leases in the outer continental shelf, including in Arctic waters, and to increase energy activity on federal lands. It also would allow states with established regulatory authorities to request the right to manage energy activities on federal lands and would prohibit some federal regulations from being enforced.

“Any time the federal government looks to streamline processes and delegate authority back to the states, that is generally a good thing for industry,” said Jim Winchester, executive director of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico. “While we are not certain of the impact of HR 4239 to independents to New Mexico, IPANM generally supports any effort to provide regulatory certainty and to streamline the permitting processes. “

The New Mexico Business Coalition and several national industry groups involved in energy production have publicly indicated support for the bill.

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But several environmental groups have come out against the bill. The Natural Resource Defense Council, Oceana and the National Audubon Society are among those that have written that the legislation would put marine mammals, birds and the environment at risk by decreasing or ending protections meant to protect wildlife, public lands and water.

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