Congressman Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., is hoping the U.S. Senate won't support the "spill bill" passed by the House of Representatives Friday.
Pomeroy, in Minot Tuesday, said the public has the right to be assured that the country won't have another Gulf oil spill. But he added that the country also can't afford to saddle its domestic oil industry with excessive regulation. The bill crafted in the House would slow domestic energy development by 10 percent, he said.
His primary objection is to a provision that requires oil companies follow the same regulations for managing storm water runoff as developments such as shopping centers. He said the requirement works for projects that take extended planning but won't work for the fast-moving oil business.
"Those completely inapplicable regulations made it in the bill," he said. "I don't think this bill is going to pass in the Senate. If it does, I hope to goodness that part comes out."
The House approved the legislation, which overhauls the current system of offshore drilling. A key provision is the elimination of liability caps for companies responsible for oil spills.
Pomeroy sided with the losing minority in the 209-193 passage of the bill supported by President Barack Obama.
Pomeroy, Berg want tax cuts to stay
Congress should keep tax cuts adopted during the Bush Administration in place, according to both Congressman Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and his election challenger, Republican Rick Berg.
Federal lawmakers are contemplating what to do about the tax cuts, passed in 2001 and 2003, that expire at the end of the year. Some Democrats have indicated support for eliminating the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
Pomeroy said he favors keeping all the tax cuts for the near term.
"My view is that in the depths of the recession is not a good time to raise taxes," Pomeroy said. "The economy is getting better but it's a slow, tough slog."
Berg also supports retaining all the tax cuts.
"That would create jobs in our country," Berg said. "The lack of a long-term fiscal plan by Congress has just created this uncertainty, and if we want to create jobs, we need to have the confidence of small businesses."
He opposed the bill despite being part of a successful effort to remove a provision banning hydraulic fracturing, a technique widely used in North Dakota. The drilling method uses water to fracture rock formations to more effectively extract the oil.
Some industry watchers have environmental concerns about the effects of fracturing on ground water, but none of those concerns relates to the drilling procedures in North Dakota, Pomeroy said.
"We don't have a drinking water issue, and it's not right to use the Safe Drinking Water Act or the spill bill to basically develop a new role for the Environmental Protection Agency in fracing," he said.
Rick Berg, Republican candidate for U.S. House, said the risk that Congress could ban hydraulic fracturing isn't over because the Senate still has the issue before it. Like Pomeroy, he said he does not support the bill that passed the House.
"The bill is an example of government over-reach," he said. "Things were added into the bill that, quite frankly, will stifle the energy industry in America. If we want to have energy independence we shouldn't be passing bills that hurt the industry. We should be doing like we do in North Dakota and encouraging the industry."
Berg also opposes increasing taxes on the oil industry because he believes it will discourage drilling and job growth.
Pomeroy said he will work to counter efforts to remove deductions that oil companies can receive for intangible drilling costs. He called the deductions important to keeping independent producers in business. Elimination of the deduction will affect the ability to develop North Dakota's Bakken field, he said.
"We don't want to slow this up," he said, noting that the state has surpassed Oklahoma to rank third in the nation in drilling rigs. It ranks fourth as a top oil-producing state, providing 5 percent of the nation's oil production.
Pomeroy also is pushing for continuation of tax credits for biodiesel and ethanol plants. Congress allowed the biodiesel credit to expire while debating whether to extend it. The ethanol credit expires at the end of the year. Pomeroy said he is confident Congress will take favorable action for the industries by the end of the year.