House Passes Natural Gas Legislation

Bipartisan legislation provides states with unprecedented decision-making authority over their costal resources.

Before leaving for its Fourth of July recess, the House passed the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act, legislation that will increase exploration, development and production of oil and natural gas in the Outer Continental Shelf. National Corn Growers Association Corn Board member Garry Niemeyer says the passage is an important step toward securing more domestic supplies of natural gas and oil and aiding in decreasing dependence on foreign sources of energy.

"This was an important vote for agriculture and corn growers who rely heavily on affordable energy sources, such as natural gas," states Niemeyer. "We needed this vote to send a message that natural gas legislation is needed this year. We are very appreciative of the bipartisan support by House members for their vote."

The House voted 232 to 187 in favor of H.R. 4761, which represents a bipartisan compromise that provides states with unprecedented decision-making authority over their coastal resources. States that want to produce offshore energy for the nation will gain the ability to do so, and states that want to continue offshore production moratoria will have the ability to do so for the long term. The DOER Act:

  • Codifies the executive moratorium into permanent law, for the first time ever, banning oil and gas leasing within 50 miles of the coastline. This does not expire, but allows states to opt out with the express approval of the state legislature and agreement of the governor.
  • States are given one year from the date of enactment of the DOER Act to decide whether to permit or deny natural gas leasing in the area between 50 miles and 100 miles of their coastlines. If a state does not act, natural gas - but not oil - leasing can occur.
  • For oil leasing, states have until June 30, 2009, to enact a prohibition on activities in the area between 50 miles and 100 miles from the coast.
  • States are given the power to extend the prohibitions against either oil and gas leasing or natural gas leasing, in up to five-year increments, by simple votes of the legislature on extending the prohibition against oil and gas or natural gas leasing.

Niemeyer added corn growers will advocate for passage of similar legislation in the Senate as good policy that benefits U.S. farmers, manufacturers and consumers.

"We are pleased Congress is recognizing that all domestic energy resource options must be considered to increase the supply of energy," Niemeyer says. "We are urging the Senate to act soon on legislation that will increase supply to meet the nation's growing demand while providing some relief from high prices."

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