Bingaman, Murkowski float offshore drilling safety compromise

“Senator Murkowski’s support will be contingent on what the final bill will look like,” spokesman Robert Dillon said, noting Murkowski will support efforts to boost production and provide wider revenue-sharing for states with offshore development.

“We will wait and see if we can improve it in the amendment process,” he said.

Their offices’ joint announcement said their compromise plan will form the basis for marking up the bill in committee, but did not provide a target date.

The Interior Department has taken a suite of steps since last year’s BP spill to overhaul offshore oversight and impose tougher requirements on well design, spill containment and other issues.

But the agency’s top offshore drilling regulator – Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich – has noted that Interior still needs Congress to authorize some reforms.

They include lengthening the 30-day deadline for regulators to review industry offshore exploration plans and increasing civil penalties for violating offshore safety rules (which are among the matters addressed in the Bingaman-Murkowski plan).