House votes to double oil revenue cap for Gulf states

The revenue cap was set under the 2006 Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA), which was meant to boost oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico. The cap takes effect in 2017, and Gulf State representatives argued today that this should be increased to help Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas with their coastal restoration efforts.

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One problem for Cassidy's language, however, is that it is part of a bill that seems likely to get stuck in the Senate after it passes the House this week. The bill is H.R. 2231, Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, which would force the Obama administration to set out a new, five-year offshore lease plan for oil and gas development.

Democrats on Thursday predicted that the bill would go nowhere, just as a similar bill did in the last Congress. Democrats also said simply allowing more lease sales offshore would not immediately lower gas prices as Republicans hope, because it takes many years for these sites to be developed.

"The premise that somehow by putting more leases out there with no requirement for them to perform that the price of gas will drop, that's absolutely untrue," Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said.

Republicans argued that the bill would help, especially because the Obama administration has offered fewer lease sales in his five-year plan than any modern president.

"[H]e went out of his way to shut down this opportunity by putting forth a new five-year offshore leasing plan that locks up 85 percent of our offshore areas," Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said of President Obama. "This legislation requires the administration to recommend a new five-year leasing plan that includes areas with the most oil and natural gas, such as the mid-Atlantic, and Alaska and off southern California."

Aside from Cassidy's amendment, the House disposed of six other amendments on Thursday and plans to take up a few others on Friday before passing the bills. Amendments handled on Thursday were from:

— Kevin Brady (R-Texas), requiring the secretary of the Interior to include all areas requested by state governors in environmental reviews conducted for the leasing program. Accepted by voice vote.

— Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), striking language that eliminates the need for environmental impact studies. Failed 188-233.

— Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), prohibits leases in the outer continental shelf to anyone in violation of sanctions against Iran. Accepted by voice vote.

— Bill Flores (R-Texas), prohibits the government from imposing requirements under the Obama administration's National Ocean Policy in the context of the bill. Passed 233-190.

— Cassidy, requiring the secretary of the Interior to issue rules to provide stability to the revenue streams contemplated by the 2006 law allowing revenue sharing to Gulf Coast states. Accepted by voice vote.

— Scott Rigell (R-Va.), requiring the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to complete its study on the Atlantic environmental impact statement by the end of 2013. Passed 234-191.

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