Offshore Energy Bill Gains Support as Subcommittee Continues Broad Overhaul of Federal Lands Energy Policy
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2017 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
Today, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a legislative hearing on a discussion draft of the “Accessing Strategic Resources Offshore Act” or the “Astro Act.” The bill, which improves access to Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) energy resources through more reliable leasing and an improved revenue sharing framework with coastal states, is part of the Committee’s broader overhaul of federal lands energy policy.
“Our offshore oil and gas industry provides our nation and the world with a safe and reliable source of energy, billions of dollars in revenues to the government, and has resulted in the creation of millions of direct and indirect jobs across the country. It is critical that we maintain and increase access to offshore exploration and production to improve upon these trends,” Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Chairman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said.
Under the previous administration, 94% of America’s OCS lands were off limits to development through both the 5 Year Plan process and the withdrawal of acreage.
“Natural gas and oil exploration in the Atlantic could be an opportunity for our state to see much-needed additional economic improvements, investment and job creation,” South Carolina State Senator Stephen Goldfinch stated. “Years of experience have shown that exploration and production can exist safely alongside tourism and fishing industries, as well as the military… If oil and gas is to come to South Carolina, I cannot imagine one of my constituents demanding the state decline much needed revenues for roads, schools and healthcare.”
Studies show that opening the OCS in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Eastern Gulf would create 840,000 new jobs and generate over $200 billion in revenues.
“I believe that the partnership that has worked so well for the interior states to develop federal [onshore] resources should be established for the coastal states that also host federal offshore mineral develop,” former Louisiana Senator and Senior Policy Advisory at Van Ness Feldman, LLP Mary Landrieu stated.
The “ASTRO Act” establishes revenue sharing for states in the Mid and Southern Atlantic planning areas, in an attempt to fairly compensate the qualifying producing states, and to ensure disbursement certainty into the future.
“Our nation should produce more of the oil and natural gas Americans need here at home. And it can. This would strengthen our energy security and help put downward pressure on prices while also providing many thousands of new jobs for Americans and billions of dollars in additional revenue for our government,” Director of Upstream and Industry Operations at the American Petroleum Institute Erik Milito added.
The “ASTRO Act” adds flexibility to the national oil and gas leasing process by giving the Secretary of the Interior the authority to conduct lease sales in areas excluded from approved 5 Year Plans. It also limits the president’s authority to withdraw OCS areas from leasing.
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