The Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreements Authorization Act (H.R. 1613) passed the House on June 27, 2013 with a bipartisan vote of 256-171. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Doc Hastings (R-WA), and Matt Salmon (R-AZ), would enact the terms of an agreement signed in February 2012 by the Obama Administration and Mexico to govern how to explore, develop, and share revenue from oil and natural gas resources along the maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico. The bill awaits consideration by the Senate.
Paralleling the House, S. 812 has been introduced in the Senate by Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowsky (R-AK) and referred to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bill would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to implement the agreement between the United States and the United Mexican States concerning transboundary hydrocarbon reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico.
The chances of either the House or Senate bills being passed by both houses of Congress are relatively high, although few bills introduced in the first year of a congressional session generally are passed. The overall prognosis for all legislation is poor; three percent of introduced bills were enacted in the last Congress.
Efforts to expand offshore drilling may also be making progress in Congress.
H.R. 2231: Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, introduced by Doc Hastings (R-WA), has passed the House. This bill would give all coastal states the same revenue sharing for oil and gas development as the Gulf Coast states currently receive: 37.5 percent. The proposed legislation would also require a new Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) leasing plan that includes the Mid-Atlantic, southern Pacific and Arctic areas by 2015.
In the Senate, two bills have been introduced that would accomplish almost the same things as the House bill: S. 630: FAIR Act of 2013 (Lisa Murkowski and three Democrats are sponsoring the bill) gives all coastal states 37.5 percent of revenues, but differs from the House bill in directing 10 percent of the revenues for energy efficiency and renewable energy activities. S. 1024: Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2013 (Mark Warner (D-VA) sponsor) would add offshore Virginia to the 2012-2017 OCS leasing plan.
As with all legislation in the 113rd Congress, even bills with bilateral support in both the House and Senate are given a less than 50 percent chance of passing.