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February 15, 2012

In an effort to pass the RESTORE Act—which would assure that 80 percent of the fines incurred as a result of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico would stay in the Gulf Coast region—legislators are planning to tack the proposal onto a transportation bill.

According to Dan McFaul, Rep. Jeff Miller’s (R-Florida) chief of staff, the congressman—as well as Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Florida) and Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Alabama)—will introduce an amended version of the RESTORE Act and attach it to H.R. 7, The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012. The bill will be debated tonight, which is when the representatives are expected to tack on RESTORE.

The RESTORE Act has met some opposition in Washington. Gulf Coast legislators are hoping including the act in a promising bill will better its chances at passing.

Earlier this week, McFaul discussed the possibility of tacking RESTORE onto another transportation bill, H.R. 3410. While he said Miller would support including RESTORE in the bill, he wouldn’t support the final bill because it also included language that redrew boundaries in the Gulf of Mexico and essentially opened up the now-off limits eastern portion of the Gulf.

“I am strongly against the passage of H.R. 3410,” Miller said in an earlier statement. “The bill, as reported by the Committee on Natural Resources, opens portions of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico as close as 12 miles from Pensacola Beach for gas and oil exploration.”

The bill now being considered for a RESTORE-piggyback—H.R. 7—does much of the same.

“Yes,” McFaul replied in an email. “The bill does the things you asked about. (redraw central/eastern boundaries in the gulf, require those yearly 50-block lease sales in the eastern gulf, give the sec. of defense the power to override the military mission line). Miller will still oppose bill because of opening up the Eastern Gulf to drilling.”

McFaul said the congressmen will attach the amended RESTORE Act to H.R. 7, but that the energy provisions in that bill are expected to be shuffled onto H.R. 3408, the PIONEERS Act.

The energy provisions—where ever they end up—will: Requires the Administration to move forward with new offshore energy production in areas containing the most oil and natural gas resources; Requires the Secretary of the Interior to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Virginia; Establishes revenue sharing of offshore revenues for coastal states; Opens portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to energy development and directs the Interior Secretary to establish lease sales in the North Slope of ANWR; Directs the Secretary of the Interior to issue additional R&D and commercial leases on oil shale; Makes permanent the Resource Management Plan amendments and commercial oil shale regulations published guidelines by the Department in 11/08; Includes the Keystone XL Pipeline.

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