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GOP lawmaker wants vote on public lands bill delayed over decline in oil and gas revenue

GOP lawmaker wants vote on public lands bill delayed over decline in oil and gas revenue
© Greg Nash

Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopGOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Westerman tapped as top Republican on House Natural Resources Committee | McMorris Rodgers wins race for top GOP spot on Energy and Commerce | EPA joins conservative social network Parler MORE (Utah), the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, is pushing to delay a vote on a major public lands bill in light of a decline in federal oil and gas revenue.

The Great American Outdoors Act, which has broad bipartisan support, would use mostly offshore oil and gas revenues to permanently fund a conservation program known as the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The bill is slated for a floor vote Wednesday.

Bishop, an opponent of permanently funding the LWCF, said the chamber should delay the vote following a Congressional Research Service report published last week that found an 84 percent decline in offshore drilling funds sent to the government in May compared to the same month in 2019.

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“Given what has been confirmed by the Congressional Research Service and knowing how this language is drafted, it would be ludicrous for House Democrats to move forward with this bill without amendment,” Bishop, who is not running for reelection, said in a statement Monday, adding that the report "has just confirmed that these revenue streams have evaporated due to the pandemic."

Companies that drill for oil and gas on public lands and waters have to pay the federal government based on how much energy they produce.

Earlier this year, prices plummeted amid a lack of demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, and some companies may have cut back on drilling. Others have applied for lower royalty rates as a result of lower prices.

However, energy demand has somewhat rebounded since then.

While Bishop opposes the LWCF provisions in the bill, he is supportive of the portions that would address a maintenance backlog for national parks.

He has proposed an amendment that would allow LWCF funds to be used for priority deferred maintenance projects if there’s a revenue shortfall.

The Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act last month in a 73-25 vote. President TrumpDonald TrumpSunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Navajo Nation president on Arizona's new voting restrictions: An 'assault' on our rights The Memo: Lawmakers on edge after Greene's spat with Ocasio-Cortez MORE has also signaled support for the legislation.