Exploration of the outer continental shelf
By By Jo Bonner
House passes bill to allow for exploration on the Outer Continental Shelf
Before adjourning for the 4th of July, the House passed legislation to expand domestic offshore oil and natural gas production and increase the share of energy royalties produced offshore for coastal states.
By a vote of 232-187 and with broad bipartisan support, the House passed H.R. 4761, the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Energy Act (DOER Act), which would allow more of America's massive energy resources to be produced in the deep seas of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). I, along with 113 of my House colleagues, cosponsored this bill, which had the support of the complete House delegations from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
The DOER Act grants coastal states the authority to keep offshore energy production 100 miles away from their coastlines, while enabling the United States to produce energy in the waters beyond 100 miles from the coast.
Since 1982, the majority of America's offshore areas have been restricted to energy production. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush issued a presidential directive banning new energy production off of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, parts of offshore Alaska, and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. In 1998, President Clinton extended these restrictions through 2012.
The DOER Act allows states to have more control of energy exploration off their coasts by giving them the opportunity to opt out of these restrictions. Specifically, the bill gives states permanent authority to manage energy production within 100 miles of their coastline, while allowing the United States to authorize energy exploration between 100 and 200 miles off states' coastlines.
States that allow energy production off of their coasts would also share in the revenues generated from the OCS leases.
Currently, almost all revenues from OCS drilling go to the federal government; however, revenue generated from drilling on onshore federal lands is split evenly between the state and the federal government. The DOER Act allows coastal, energy producing states to be treated as states that allow onshore drilling, thereby sharing in the revenue.
Today, the United States is 60 percent more dependent on foreign sources of energy than we were 30 years ago. It is incomprehensible to me that outdated federal regulations still prevent exploration of the (OCS). At a time when energy prices are at record highs, we cannot allow America's offshore oil and natural gas reserves to remain unused, nor should states that choose not to drill off their coasts share in the revenues.
According to the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS), America's deep seas on the OCS contain 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (the U.S. consumes 23 TCF per year) and 86 billion barrels of oil (the U.S. imports 4.5 billion per year). Still, with all of these resources on our doorstep, the United States continues to send more than $300 billion overseas every year for energy.
H.R. 4761 is a commonsense approach to addressing America's energy needs. It is long overdue for coastal producing states to receive their fair share of oil and gas revenues, and it is vital that states have authority over the energy produced off of their coast.
By encouraging new energy production here at home, we are taking an important step towards reducing America's dependence on foreign oil. This legislation will now go to the Senate for consideration.
House passes science, state, justice, commerce, &related agencies
The House also approved the Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2007, which funds federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Small Business Administration, and the National Science Foundation. It funds national priorities such as border security and the growing problem of methamphetamine abuse.
This important bill seeks to enhance America's competitiveness through an increased commitment to scientific research. It also provides record levels of funding to provide loans to America's small business entrepreneurs.
Among other things, H.R. 5672, the Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2007, will provide the following:
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Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.