Comments on H.R. 3671 (96th Congress)

EMD-79-B3: Published: Sep 5, 1979. Publicly Released: Sep 5, 1979.

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Legislation is proposed which would create a Government corporation to establish and administer a national program for the exploration and development of energy mineral deposits. The bill proposes to accelerate the development of domestic energy sources, particularly synthetic fuels, through the formation of a Government corporation. Two issues are essential to provide both the decisive action and balanced program the Nation needs: (1) synthetic fuels to provide liquid fuels and feedstocks for the medium- to long-term, and (2) conservation both now and for the future.

The bill is mainly designed to provide a Government corporation to accelerate synthetic fuels development; it provides for additional authority which is beyond the scope of powers being considered under the President's proposal and other bills now before Congress. The bill includes authority for the corporation to: explore Federal land for mineral deposits, including oil, natural gas, geothermal power, coal and shale oil; develop and market materials derived from these deposits; acquire land under the power of eminent domain; and use any patented methods, formulas, and scientific information on pending patents. The corporation would thus compete with private industry. A Government corporation which encourages private investment in synfuels is appropriate. In the past, GAO has commented on the advisability of a Government corporation exploring for energy and minerals on Federal lands, and has not favored its creation. This has included concern that such a corporation would not be subject to the same degree of congressional control as noncorporate agencies. While synthetic fuel development is clearly an important and worthwhile national goal, conservation should take just as high or even higher priority. The ultimate goal should be to move to renewable energy sources. A Government corporation which would compete with private industry is another matter which requires further analysis.

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