Three House bills that would greatly expand U.S. oil and gas development – H.R. 3407, H.R. 3408, and H.R. 3410 were approved by the Natural Resources Committee on February 1, 2012.

H.R. 3407 would open up vast areas of Alaska’s coastal plain to oil leasing.

H.R. 3408 would expand shale oil development in several Western states. Many Democrats opposed the bill, arguing that the environmental, social, and geologic risks of shale oil development are not yet well understood. The committee voted down a Democratic amendment that would have required the USGS to study oil shale development impacts on water availability and quality.

H.R. 3410 would force the federal government to auction leases in oil-rich areas of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and in the Gulf of Mexico. The committee rejected a Democratic amendment that would have allowed states’ voters to refuse leases off their shores.

These bills have been reported to the House floor, where they are expected to accompany Speaker John Boehner’s “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act.”

What policy goals does expanded domestic oil and gas development accomplish? What goals does it undermine? What do you think of the short-term implications of these bills? And the long-term?