Legislation to tighten safety requirements for offshore oil and gas drilling has advanced in the House but faces an uncertain future in the Senate.
The House on July 30 passed the Consolidated Land, Energy and Aquatic Resource Act, which would set tough safety standards for offshore drilling and require oil companies to cover 100% of cleanup costs and damages from spills they create.
The “CLEAR” Act, approved 209 to 193, also would revamp the Interior Dept.’s former Minerals Management Service by removing conflicts-of-interest among its leasing, inspection and revenue-collection duties.
Interior recently reorganized MMS and renamed it the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.
Some industry groups have criticized the CLEAR bill. Jim Noe, executive director of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition, says the measure would “make it nearly impossible for the vast majority of the shallow-water oil and gas industry to operate on the Outer Continental Shelf.”
In the Senate, on Aug. 3, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced he would postpone action on his slimmed-down energy bill until after Labor Day. The bill hit a bump when GOP lawmakers took issue with a provision eliminating the oil-spill liability cap. In constructing the bill, Reid jettisoned cap-and-trade and renewable-energy standard provisions, but has said that all of the remaining provisions have bipartisan support.