White House backs US-Mexico drilling pact

The White House applauded congressional approval on Thursday of a U.S.-Mexico pact that OKs offshore drilling cooperation along a maritime boundary in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Senate approved the 2012 U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement on Wednesday evening as a part of the larger two-year budget deal being sent to President Obama.


The pact ultimately opens up oil-and-gas reservoirs across 1.5 million acres of the outer continental shelf.

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden applauded the move by the House and Senate.

"This agreement will establish an environmentally safe and responsible framework to explore, develop and share revenue from hydrocarbon resources that lie in waters beyond each country’s exclusive, economic zones," Hayden said in a statement on Thursday.

"The Administration appreciated the opportunity to work with key bipartisan congressional leaders to move this important priority forward."

A top oil lobby, the American Petroleum Institute (API), also cheered the move by Congress.

“[U.S.] companies will now have the certainty they need to invest confidently along our maritime border with Mexico," said Erik Milito of API.

Milito added that the energy production made possible would help create jobs and raise more revenue for the government.

In October, the Senate passed a bill that would implement the pact, but the House-approved bill gave companies operating under the U.S.-Mexico pact waivers from a Dodd-Frank law mandate to disclose payments form foreign governments.

The House version of the bill left Congress in a jam on the agreement for months. In June, the White House said it opposed the House legislation, saying it would have a negative impact on U.S. efforts to "increase transparency and accountability, particularly in the oil, gas and minerals sectors," the administration said.

But the exemption provision was not included in the budget deal announced on Tuesday evening.

The Hill's On The Money blog has more on the complete budget sent to Obama here