A House Republican leader introduced a comprehensive bipartisan energy bill on Friday that would open up financial incentives for states that allow energy development off their shores.
The SECURE American Energy Act was introduced Friday by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was joined by House Natural Resources Committee chairman Rob Bishop of Utah. Democratic Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vicente González of Texas also signed onto introducing the legislation.
Scalise explained that the bill provides "incentivizes" for offshore energy production by extending revenue-sharing agreements from Alaska to the Atlantic states while raising existing revenue-sharing caps to provide Gulf states like Louisiana with hundreds of millions in additional dollars to help restore their coasts.
Revenue sharing allows states where offshore drilling takes place to receive part of the fees and royalties that come from oil and natural gas producers that operate on federal leases. The states are able to receive a percentage of the federal royalties before they go to the Treasury. Gulf states have participated in revenue-sharing agreements for years, and the bill would open up states like Virginia and New Jersey to receive a portion of the royalties generated off of federal leases.
"The SECURE American Energy Act opens up more areas for responsible energy exploration, creating good jobs in communities all across our country," said Scalise. "Our bill empowers states and optimizes onshore resource management by delegating certain permitting functions to state regulatory agencies instead of Washington."
There are no federal offshore leases available on the Atlantic Coast, but that is expected to change as the Trump administration looks to augment the Obama administration's five-year leasing plan that bars drilling on the Atlantic coast and the Arctic. President Trump's Interior Department wants to expand the opportunity along all coastlines of the U.S. where it is feasible.
Bishop noted that revenue sharing would also include renewable energy development off the coast like offshore wind farms that are being planned in the Atlantic.
"Through cooperative federalism and commonsense regulatory practices we can fundamentally improve the way our federal lands and waters are managed for oil, gas and wind development," Bishop said.
The Democrats that helped introduce the bill underscored the benefits it presents for renewables and responsible energy development.
“The United States is a world leader in both the production and development of conventional and renewable resources," said Cuellar. "The SECURE American Energy Act will further invest in the future of our nation’s energy landscape by making sure federal lands are also available for responsible energy development."
The offshore energy industry praised the introduction of the bill that would also reduce delays in federal permits to conduct seismic surveys to assess oil and natural gas deposits below the seabed.
"The bill also introduces a firm commitment to regularly scheduled offshore wind lease sales and expands the [Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act] to U.S. territories, ensuring that every American citizen has access to the benefits of offshore energy development, both traditional and non-traditional," said President Randall Luthi, president of the offshore energy trade group NOIA.
"Finally, the new inspection fee collection language in the bill will help ensure that the fee schedule appropriately reflects the true cost of conducting inspections and ensures the funding goes to addressing inspections of OCS facilities," Luthi said.