U.S. Bill on Internet-Based Lease Sales Moves Ahead
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that environmental groups say will shield offshore oil and gas lease sales from public scrutiny. House Resolution 5577: Innovation in Offshore Leasing Act, sponsored by Representatives Garret Graves (R-La.) and Alan Lowenthal (D-Ca.) would require the Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) to conduct an Internet-based lease sale for oil and gas deposits in the Gulf of Mexico.
An online lease system will marginalize public input and comes amid rising public pressure from the Keep It in the Ground movement to end new oil and gas leasing on public lands and oceans, says Friends of the Earth.
A coalition of community-based groups from the Gulf Coast and Alaska, supported by national allies, sent a letter to House leadership in July expressing strong opposition to the bill, because the bill would threaten wildlife, coastal communities and the climate.
Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Marissa Knodel said: “New fossil fuel leasing is wrong for people and the planet. Moving lease sales online will only make it easier for fossil fuel companies to keep the Gulf of Mexico as an energy sacrifice zone.
“Across the nation, and in the Gulf in particular, the movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground is gaining strength and momentum. Congress should listen to the voices of the people in the Gulf demanding a safe climate future and just transition to a renewable energy economy, not the fossil fuel industry.”
However, industry body NOIA supports the move. President Randall Luthi issued a statement saying: “NOIA commends the House of Representatives for passing the Innovation in Offshore Leasing Act. Sponsored by Representatives Garret Graves (R-LA) and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), H.R. 5577 is a bipartisan and common-sense way to incorporate modern technology and transparency into the offshore lease sale process.
“Last month, BOEM successfully live-streamed its Western Gulf of Mexico lease sale reading of bids and BLM issued its final rule to allow for internet-based onshore lease sales. We have repeatedly seen that incorporating internet-based technologies are cost-effective improvements that can increase transparency and efficiency in the offshore lease sale process.
“In an election in year when most of the focus is on what Congress can’t do, it is refreshing to recognize what Congress can do. It still is possible for Members of Congress to work together and pass meaningful legislation, and NOIA applauds Congressmen Graves and Lowenthal for working on a bipartisan basis to make these common-sense reforms. NOIA looks forward to working with the Senate in seeing this bill passed.”