White House threatens veto on GOP energy bills

White House: Administration of President Barack Obama in veto threat on energy measures

The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a trio of Republican-backed energy bills in the House of Representatives which aim to reduce federal regulation of energy production in the United States, according to a report.

If President Barack Obama were presented with any of the bills "his senior advisors would recommend that he veto" the legislation, Reuters quoted the White House as saying.

None of the bills, if passed by the House, is thought to have any chance in the Democratic-led Senate, but Republicans are keen to be on record as having pushed for a reduction in what they term overbearing regulation, according to the news wire.

The day's third veto threat was directed at HR 1900, targeted at the permitting of natural gas pipelines.

The legislation, from Kansas Congressman Ron Pompeo, would allow automatic approval of pipeline projects if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) or other agencies do not issue approvals promptly.

The bill "could create conflicts with existing statutory and regulatory requirements and practices related to agencies' programs, thereby causing confusion and increasing litigation risk," the White House said, adding that most pipeline applications considered by FERC are completed within a year of receipt.

HR 2728, authored by Texas Republican Bill Flores, would restrict the ability of the Bureau of Land Management, part of the Department of Interior, to regulate hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on Federal and Indian lands.

BLM oversees oil and gas operations, including fracking, on over 700 million acres of such land and subsurface mineral deposits. It has been preparing regulations on environmental safeguards.

"The bill, as reported, would undermine these efforts and instead require BLM to defer to existing State regulations on hydraulic fracturing on Federal lands, regardless of the quality or comprehensiveness of the State regulations - thereby preventing consistent environmental protections," the White House said in a statement.

The US Chamber of Commerce came out in favor of the fracking bill, saying it would prevent the BLM from enacting a "one-size fits all" approach to regulation.

"The federal government is taking steps that can threaten all of the projected benefits" of a spike in US energy production, including job growth and a faster-expanding economy, the business group said in a letter to lawmakers.

The final bill, HR 1965, would among other things give the government a two-month window to reject onshore drilling permits, after which they would be considered approved.

It was proposed by Colorado Republican Doug Lamborn was debated on Tuesday.

The proposal would "roll back policies that support the continued growth of safe and responsible energy production in the United States (and) discourage environmental analysis and civic engagement in Federal decision making," the White House said.

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