House committee passes bill to open more offshore areas to drillers

Texas Democrats joined Republicans on the House Committee on Natural Resources last week to pass the so-called SECURE American Energy Act, H.R. 4239, UPI reported.

The legislation would expand offshore oil and gas offshore drilling and offer some support for wind energy development, Kallanish Energy learns.

Most states bordering the Gulf of Mexico receive royalties from oil and gas operations under measures signed by former President George W. Bush.

The SECURE Act would expand revenue-sharing to Alaska and Atlantic Coast states and pullback presidential control over what can and can’t be put off limits, UPI reported.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and ranking member on the committee, said the bill distributes oil and gas revenue in a way that could show favoritism.

“This bill has all the signs of mental exhaustion,” he said, in a statement. “Nobody outside the petro-bubble takes their (supporter’s) arguments seriously any longer.”

Supporters of the measure say the Obama administration put most of the territorial waters off limits to drillers. The federal government now estimates roughly 90 billion barrels of oil have yet to be discovered in U.S. territorial waters, and the GOP and industry leaders say more drilling could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and generate $200 billion in revenue, UPI reported.

Dan Naatz, senior vice president of Government Relations and Political Affairs with the Independent Petroleum Association of America (one of seven industry groups supporting the measure), said H.R. 4239 was a common-sense act that “reins in bureaucratic overreach and expands offshore energy development opportunities.”

“With this legislation, we can unlock our vast energy potential, advance American energy dominance and generate revenues at all levels of government,” Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said, in a statement.

A group of eleven environmental and conservation groups called the SECURE Act “shameful.”