US House passes new offshore leasing plan

by on July 26, 2012 8:29 pm BST

The House voted 253-170 on Wednesday to advance a Bill that would require 29
offshore lease sales over the next five years, nearly twice the number proposed
in Obama’s current leasing plan.

Twenty-five Democrats voted in favour of the Republican-sponsored Bill, known
as HR 6082. (Click here to see a copy of the Bill.)

The Bill would also open up areas in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that
are currently off limits to drillers.

The passage was seen as a largely symbolic refutation of the president’s
energy policies, which have been portrayed by the president’s opponents as

The Democrat-led Senate was said to be unlikely to vote on the measure, leaving
the Bill dead on arrival in the higher chamber. Obama has threatened to veto
the Bill if it ever finds its way to his desk.

Industry remained hopeful the Bill would live to see a vote on the Senate

The Independent Petroleum Association of America called the president’s
existing plan “simply insufficient”.

“On the
other hand, the House plan opens up new areas for exploration of our nation’s
rich resource potential offshore. It allows for states that have been yearning
to explore their energy potential – states like Virginia – to tap into the
energy and economic renewal that has been sweeping the nation,” IPAA president Barry
Russell said in a statement.

In a
separate House vote on Wednesday, representatives formally disapproved of Obama’s
leasing plan by a 261-164 margin.

The administration’s
plan, proposed on 28 June, is currently under a 60-day congressional review
period. The plan does not require congressional approval, however.

“The only reason the majority is bringing up this bill is to defeat
it,” Democratic representative Edward Markey said.

Secretary Ken Salazar has said he will sign the current five-year leasing plan,
making it official, as soon as the review period is over.