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Senate approves drilling in Gulf of Mexico

Measure Title: A bill to enhance the energy independence and security of the United States by providing for exploration, development, and production activities for mineral resources in the Gulf of Mexico, and for other purposes.
S.3711
August 1, 2006, 05:09 PM

Vote Counts:

YEAs - 71
NAYs - 25
Not Voting - 4

Wyden (D-OR), Nay
Smith (R-OR), Yea

Other prominent Yeas:

Clinton (D-NY), Yea
McCain (R-AZ), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea

 link to www.senate.gov

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SUMMARY AS OF:
7/20/2006--Introduced.

Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 - Instructs the Secretary of the Interior to offer the 181 Area and the 181 South Area for oil and gas leasing, notwithstanding their omission from the Outer Continental Shelf leasing program.

Subjects the following areas to a moratorium upon oil and gas leasing (or any related activity): (1) any area east of the Military Mission Line in the Gulf of Mexico; (2) any area in the Eastern Planning Area that is within 125 miles of the Florida coastline; or (3) specified areas within the Central Planning Area and within 100 miles of the Florida coastline.

Reserves to the United States the right to designate national defense areas on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Directs the Secretary to permit any person that, as of the date of enactment of this Act, has entered into an oil or gas lease with the Secretary in any area described in this Act, to exchange the lease for a bonus or royalty credit that may only be used in the Gulf of Mexico.

Prescribes requirements for: (1) disposition of qualified Outer Continental Shelf revenues from 181 Area, 181 South Area, and 2002-2007 planning areas of the Gulf of Mexico; (2) allocation among Gulf producing states and coastal political subdivisions; (3) historical lease sites; and (4) payments to coastal political subdivisions.

Sets forth the authorized uses of amounts received by Gulf producing states and coastal political subdivisions, including certain environmental protection projects and activities.

Sets limitations upon the amount of distributed qualified Outer Continental Shelf Revenues.

 link to thomas.loc.gov
From The Associated Press 01.Aug.2006 18:27

Burro

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Tuesday to open 8.3 million acres of federal waters in the central Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling, setting up a confrontation with the House, which wants even more drilling in waters now off-limits.

Supporters said the measure would be a major step toward producing more domestic energy and forcing down natural gas prices that have soared in recent years.

The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 71-25. It now must be reconciled with much broader drilling legislation passed by the House in June. Those negotiations are likely to begin in September.

"This bill will substantially reduce our reliance on foreign oil and gas. ... It brings more American energy to American consumers," declared Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

Likewise, Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., called the legislation "welcome news for the people of the United States" for homeowners facing high heating bills as well as for manufacturers and chemical companies that have seen natural gas costs soar.

Opponents seek more drilling

Some critics of the legislation noted that it will be years before any oil or gas will be taken from the 8.3 million acres and that the legislation falls short of addressing many of the country's energy problems.

At best "this will supply a small amount of gas years from now," said Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., who decried the inability to broaden the legislation beyond drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Still, the bill attracted wide, bipartisan support as lawmakers sought to show the flag on energy as they prepared to leave for the monthlong summer recess. The House is already gone.

Some senators noted that natural gas prices jumped by 11 percent this week amid concern about supplies because of the intense summer heat. The price was at more than $8 per thousand cubic feet on the spot market, compared to under $6 a few weeks ago.

Despite the solid Senate vote, the bill's prospect of clearing Congress remains uncertain.

The House-passed bill would allow energy companies access to waters far beyond the central Gulf and lift the quarter-century-old drilling moratorium on Outer Continental Shelf waters on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, while allowing states to decide whether to continue the drilling bans.
House leaders have said they are eager to negotiate a compromise bill, once the Senate acts.

'Zone of protection'

Senate Democrats and GOP moderates say such a broad bill would threaten areas that have long opposed energy developing, from New England to California and the Pacific Northwest. Senate leaders say it would spark a filibuster and probably lead to no offshore drilling legislation emerging from Congress this year.

The 8.3 million acres affected by the Senate measure is believed to contain 1.2 billion barrels of oil and nearly 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to heat 6 million homes for 15 years.

The bill would create a "zone of protection" for Florida that would stretch 125 to 300 miles from the state's beaches at various points. It also would funnel tens of millions of additional dollars to the four other Gulf coast states as their share of future oil and gas revenues.

Opposition melted

One part of the area, known as Lease Area 181, had been scheduled for lease sales by the Interior Department in the 1990s, but was placed off-limits by the Bush administration in 2001 at the request of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The remaining 6.3 million acres south of Lease Area 181 has been under a congressional drilling moratorium for years.

Broad opposition to the Senate bill began to melt away last week when Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who had threatened to filibuster any offshore drilling legislation, said he would go along given the promise that the Senate would not accept the House measure.

The issue has attracted intense lobbying from environmentalists arguing that drilling in areas now off-limits would threaten coastal beaches and marine life if a spill should occur.

Businesses from chemical companies and manufacturers to utilities and farmers have pushed lawmakers hard to open more waters to drilling, arguing that will provide new supplies of natural gas and perhaps lower prices.

The bill calls for the Department of the Interior to open bids for developing Lease Area 181 within a year and follow with lease sales in the rest of the area which is farther off shore in waters more than 10,000 feet deep as soon as practical.
Money to restore coastline

Energy companies for years have coveted Lease Area 181 because the gas and oil it holds is close to existing pipelines and other infrastructure. It lies about 100 miles off the Louisiana coast.
Under the bill, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi would get 37.5 percent of the royalty revenue the federal government collects from the oil and gas that is pumped off their shores. They now get less than 2 percent.

That is expected to be as much as $1.2 billion a year within 10 years with Louisiana likely to get about half of that.

"There's no policy justification for diverting these revenues," Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said. He said while the revenue sharing will increase gradually, between 2016 and 2055 the states could get as much as $30 billion. After that their share could be $12.5 billion a year.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said these states for decades have been shortchanged and that it's only fair that their share be increased in a new "partnership" with the federal government to expand energy development. "We will use the money to restore a great coastline ... restore the great wetlands" off the Louisiana coast and improve storm protection, she said.

2006 The Associated Press

good grief 01.Aug.2006 18:38

Ben Waiting

figures Smith would vote a YEA!

fraudulent elections and now drilling in the gulf 04.Aug.2006 07:37

look

get fraudulent elections in Mexico and now this. sure the fraudulent election was to create a buffer between the new socialism of Latin America, but there is also another geopolitical consideration we should include and its it spelt "oil"