Offshore Bill Would Give States More Say in Oil and Gas Leasing
U.S. Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) on Thursday introduced legislation intended to give state governors a bigger role in opening offshore development.
The “More Energy More Jobs Act of 2021” would empower U.S. governors to formally nominate land for offshore oil and gas development and require at least two area-wide lease sales annually in the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico (GOM), according to a written statement from Brady’s office.
“Our country’s offshore oil and natural gas industry is essential for job creation, the economy, and national security,” remarked Cuellar. “This legislation will help ensure that we have access to critical energy resources while also maintaining critical environmental safeguards.”
According to Brady’s office, the legislation would allow states to identify areas for inclusion in the federal government’s five-year leasing plan. Specific provisions of the bill include:
- allowing coastal state governors to nominate for leasing any Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) areas adjacent to state waters
- direct the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to conduct the economic and environmental studies that represent first steps for inclusion in the lease plan
- enable DOI to retain limited discretion to eliminate nominated areas that are found to be inconsistent with principles in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA)
- require two area-wide lease sales annually in the Western and Central GOM.
“As we continue to recover from this pandemic, our nation needs more good-paying jobs and affordable energy prices for the American people,” remarked Brady. “Few nations develop energy as responsibly and with as strict environmental standards as America does, and energy independence is something we should celebrate. This can’t be controlled only by Washington, D.C. We must work with our states to continue unlocking our offshore energy resources responsibly.”
The bill maintains all current environmental and safety laws and ensures that required environmental reviews occur within a set time frame, Brady’s office stated.
The National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) applauded the legislation.
“NOIA thanks Representatives Brady and Cuellar for standing up for a fundamental reality and taking the initiative to ensure that the Gulf of Mexico can remain a lasting source of energy, economic, and environmental opportunity,” NOIA President Erik Milito said in a written statement emailed to Rigzone.
Milito observed that GOM oil and gas production yields broad benefits for Americans and should be a non-partisan issue.
“Our industry delivers good-paying and accessible jobs in every state, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and funding for conservation, outdoor and recreational programs, including building or improving parks in urban, underprivileged communities,” he said. “Supporting the women and men of the Gulf of Mexico is a no-brainer.”
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