House set to vote on online offshore drilling lease sales

House set to vote on online offshore drilling lease sales

House Republicans plan to bring up a bill next month moving offshore drilling lease sales online, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced on Wednesday. 

In a memo to members, McCarthy said the House will vote in September on bills aimed at “accelerating private sector innovation and bringing greater innovation into government.”

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That includes legislation from Reps. Garret Graves (R-La.) and Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) that would have the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) begin holding offshore oil and natural gas lease sales online. 

Currently, the BOEM hosts public lease auctions for offshore drilling sites at the Superdome in New Orleans, where companies submit bids in sealed envelops and officials announce the winners out loud.

Lease sales for drilling rights have already begun moving to the internet. Congress has previously given the Bureau of Land Management the right to conduct lease sales online, and the agency on Tuesday issued a final rule allowing those sales to go forward. 

The move comes as anti-fossil fuel protesters grow increasingly disruptive at public land lease sales. In March, activists protested offshore lease auctions in New Orleans, even yelling over the bidding announcements.