White House Cannot Support Gulf Transboundary Bill

The Obama administration cannot support a bill that would move forward establishing a framework for oil and gas exploration and production in the transboundary zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reported Tuesday.

The White House does support the goal set out in H.R. 1613 to provide Congressional approval of the agreement and allow the Secretary of the Interior to implement the agreement. However, the administration "strongly objects" to exempting actions taken by public companies in accordance with transboundary agreements from requirements under Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act and the Securities and Exchange Commission's Natural Resource Extraction Disclosure Rule.

"As a practical matter, this provision would waive the requirement for the disclosure of any payments made by resource extraction companies to the United States or foreign governments in accordance with a transboundary hydrocarbon agreement," OMB said in a statement. "The provision directly and negatively impacts U.S. efforts to increase transparency and accountability, particularly in the oil, gas and minerals sectors."

OMB noted that the Obama administration looks forward to working with Congress to enact legislation that would focus the U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Agreement, without the inclusion of extraneous and unnecessary provisions.

H.R. 1613, also known as the Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement Authorization Act, was proposed earlier this year by U.S. House of Representative members Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Chairman Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.). The lawmakers see the bill as a means of helping the United States achieve energy independence and better energy cooperation with Mexico as well as while lowering energy costs and creating jobs.

The bill would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and implement the U.S.-Mexico boundary agreement, which was signed in February 2012 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mexico's Minister of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinosa Castellano at the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.

The Department of the Interior estimates the area subject to the Western Gap Treaty moratorium holds as much as 172 million barrels of oil and 304 billion cubic feet of gas.


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` George Baker | Jun. 27, 2013
Its a pity that the congressmen did not have the political courage to include authorization for the negotiation of a parallel cross-border agreement with Cuba. The long-term goal for the Gulf of Mexico is (or should be) to have a common commercial framework and safety and environmental standards. The USG has lost decades in not pursuing this goal with Cuba. As for Mexico, the congressmen should ask themselves if Mexico would likely invoke sovereign immunity in the case of a major oil spill, as it did in 1981 in the aftermath of the blowout and 9-month spill at Ixtoc-1.


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