Committee forwards energy policy reform bill to US House
Washington, DC, Nov 8
By Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor
The US House Natural Resources Committee approved a bill by a 19-14 vote on Nov. 8 that would reform federal onshore and offshore energy resource management policies. H.R. 4239, which Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and three cosponsors introduced on Nov. 3, now heads to the House floor for further consideration.
The latest action largely followed party lines. Rep. Garrett Graves (R-La.) broke ranks and voted against the bill, which raises the federal offshore revenue-sharing cap with affected coastal states to $750 million. It does not, however, address a disparity between what coastal and inland states as shares from federal energy production, Graves said.
“This is about restoring Louisiana’s badly damaged coastal environment,” Graves said. “I think it’s disgusting we’re not addressing this.”
Before calling the vote, Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said to Graves, “Your state has a unique circumstance. I want to work with you on this.” It was preceded by a markup during which amendments offered by Democrats were rejected while minor changes coming from Republicans were accepted.
Oil and gas associations welcomed the committee’s action. National Ocean Industries Association Pres. Randall B. Luthi said several of the bill’s amendments will provide increased clarity to US energy producers, including one offered by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) that would transfer Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) permitting authority from the National Marine Fisheries Service to the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
This will assure that permit application decisions for seismic surveys and other offshore oil and gas activities are done in a timely, objective, and informed manner, Luthi said.
In Houston, the International Association of Geophysical Contractors also cited Johnson’s provision moving incidental take authorizations under the MMPA for offshore oil and gas activities to BOEM.
“We fully support this practical approach to streamlining processes that ensure critical activities and projects, such as offshore geophysical permitting for energy and mineral exploration, can move forward and enable the US to remain energy secure,” said Dustin Van Liew, IAGC vice-president of regulatory and government affairs.
Daniel T. Naatz, who is the Independent Petroleum Association of America’s vice-president of government relations and political affairs, said the bill would expand access to federal resources and provide commonsense reforms to create certainty for producers and a fair return to US taxpayers.
“IPAA has long-advocated for many of the reforms in this bill, which will drive US economic growth and create new jobs,” he said. “Specifically, IPAA is pleased to see the elimination of the ‘one-size-fits-all’ federal regulatory structure by delegating responsibility to states which are willing to opt in.”
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