Energy, chemical leaders hail House bill on offshore drilling

28 June 2013 22:33  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US energy and chemicals sectors on Friday hailed US House approval of an offshore energy development bill, saying the measure would ensure sufficient natural gas supplies for consumers and industry.

The House on Friday approved HR-2231, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, by a vote of 235-186.

The bill would require the US Interior Department (DOI) to open at least 50% of US outer continental shelf (OCS) regions off the US Atlantic and Pacific coasts to oil and gas exploration and development within two years.

In addition to mandating some procedural and organisational changes within the DOI, the bill also allocates 37% of federal leasing revenues from new OCS areas to states whose offshore regions will be affected.

American Chemistry Council (ACC) president Cal Dooley commended the House for “taking action to allow responsible development of America’s offshore oil and natural gas resources”.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) noted that existing federal policy bars energy development in 87% of US offshore waters, including the entire US Atlantic and Pacific Coasts.

“HR-2231 unlocks certain areas along these coasts and requires the Obama administration to revise its current five-year offshore leasing plan to allow lease sales off the coasts,” said API upstream operations director Erik Milito.

The ACC’s Dooley noted that the administration is pressing for expanded use of natural gas in electric power generation and as a vehicle fuel, warning that such increased demand must be matched by production.

“As government creates new demand for natural gas in the power and transportation sectors, among others, it must ensure its policies do not prevent domestic supplies from keeping pace,” Dooley said.

However, HR-2231 faces an uncertain future in the Democrat-controlled US Senate, and the White House has already said that President Obama would likely veto the bill if it got through the Senate as well.

The API’s Milito said that “President Obama’s threat to veto this gateway to greater energy security is horribly short sighted”.

“Congress and the president should swiftly enact this bill into law,” he said.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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