Markey added that even the Congressional Budget Office has said the energy bill would only raise $4.3 billion over 10 years, not nearly enough to offset the highway spending Republicans support.

“In reality, this bill amounts to little more than a giveaway of our public lands to Big Oil under the guise of funding our nation’s transportation projects,” Markey said.


Republicans rejected Markey’s characterization, and said oil shale development in particular holds the promise of meeting the U.S.’s energy needs for years. Rep. Doc HastingsRichard (Doc) Norman HastingsCongress just resolved a 20-year debate over Neolithic remains Boehner hires new press secretary GOP plots new course on Endangered Species Act reform MORE (R-Wash.) said oil shale development in the Rocky Mountains alone could lead to a significant new energy supply.
“According to government estimates, this region may hold … more than one and a half trillion barrels of oil equivalent,” Hastings said. “That’s six times Saudi Arabia’s proven reserves, and enough to provide the United States with energy for the next 200 years.”
The bill, titled the Protecting Investment in Oil Shale, the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy and Resource Security (PIONEERS) Act, would direct the secretary of the Interior to issue more research, development and demonstration (RD&D) and commercial oil shale leases, as well as make permanent guidelines on oil shale production that the Department of the Interior released in 2008.
But the bill goes beyond oil shale, and combines two other energy bills. Another piece of it would open up about 3 percent of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy production, and would require the administration to move ahead with new offshore production in the Atlantic, Pacific and Eastern Gulf of Mexico.
The bill is meant to help pay for the GOP’s highway authorization bill, and was split off from that bill, H.R. 7, which will be considered separately in a few weeks.
The PIONEERS Act also includes language requiring the permitting of the Keystone oil sands pipeline (this story originally said that language remains in the main transportation bill, H.R. 7).
Following debate on the PIONEERS Act, members were expected to spend Wednesday afternoon and early evening debating up to 20 amendments to the bill.

— This story was updated at 9:29 a.m. to correct that the Keystone language is in the energy bill, not the transportation bill.