Senate Passes OCS Legislation

To view a map illustrating the Senate bill, please click here .

To read the full text of the bill, please click here.


Last night, the Senate successfully passed an offshore energy bill that would begin to open new acreage in the Gulf of Mexico as soon as next year.

The measure (S 3711) was negotiated by Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) and senators from all five Gulf Coast states. In a press conference on Monday, Domenici, the lead sponsor of the bill, argued that opening new areas is safe and said the bill could set a precedent for further plans to open other areas and share revenues with states.

The bill would open an additional 8.3 million acres for leasing. It also addresses Florida's stated concerns – that offshore energy production threatens their tourism and beaches – by establishing a 125-mile buffer off that state’s coast through 2022. Essentially, this provision places some acreage from the Sale 181 Area under moratoria for the first time and also removes all acreage east of the military mission line from leasing. (The military mission line is longitudinal line at 86º 41’ beyond which the military practices aerial maneuvers and bombing trials.)

The bill would make available the remaining, un-leased portions of the original Lease Sale 181 Area for leasing within one year of the date of enactment. Additionally, the bill would lift the moratoria on significant acreage south of the 181 Area all the way to the edge of the Exclusive Economic Zone. Senate Energy Committee staff estimate this new area contains resources of 1.25 billion barrels of oil and 5 trillion cubic feet of gas.

In addition to addressing these access questions, the agreement proposes a system for sharing offshore revenue with the producing states of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. For new production in these areas, 50 percent of the revenue will go to the Federal Treasury, 37.5 percent will go to the producing states, and 12.5 percent will be set aside for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The vote was 71-25, with 18 Democrats joining 53 Republicans in favor of the bill.

On June 29, the House of Representatives passed a more expansive bill to open up moratoria areas. The next step will be for the Senate and the House to reach agreement on a final version when they return from recess in September. This is expected to be difficult since the two bills are very different, and several senators who voted for S.3711 have stated they will not support a compromise with the House bill.

NOIA will continue to advocate for more access to offshore resources as the Congress undertakes these next deliberations.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please visit the NOIA website ( or call our office at (202) 347-6900.

Vote Count

Passed by a vote of 71-25: Republicans 53-1 Democrats 18-23 (Northern Democrats 14-23, Southern Democrats 4-0) Independents 0-1

YEAS (71)

REPUBLICANS (53): Alexander, L. (TN) DeWine (OH) McCain (AZ) Allard (CO) Dole (NC) McConnell (KY) Allen, G. (VA) Domenici (NM) Murkowski (AK) Bennett (UT) Ensign (NV) Roberts (KS) Bond (MO) Enzi (WY) Santorum (PA) Brownback (KS) Frist (TN) Sessions, J. (AL) Burns (MT) Graham (SC) Shelby (AL) Burr (NC) Grassley (IA) Smith, G. (OR) Chafee (RI) Gregg (NH) Specter (PA) Chambliss (GA) Hagel (NE) Stevens (AK) Coburn (OK) Hatch (UT) Sununu (NH) Cochran (MS) Hutchison (TX) Talent (MO) Coleman (MN) Inhofe (OK) Thomas, C. (WY) Collins (ME) Isakson (GA) Thune (SD) Cornyn (TX) Kyl (AZ) Vitter (LA) Craig (ID) Lott (MS) Voinovich (OH) Crapo (ID) Lugar (IN) Warner (VA) DeMint (SC) Martinez (FL)

DEMOCRATS (18): Carper (DE) Kohl (WI) Pryor (AR) Clinton (NY) Landrieu (LA) Reid, H. (NV) Conrad (ND) Levin, C. (MI) Rockefeller (WV) Dorgan (ND) Lincoln (AR) Salazar, K. (CO) Inouye (HI) Nelson, Ben (NE) Schumer (NY) Johnson, Tim (SD) Nelson, Bill (FL) Stabenow (MI)

NAYS (25):


DEMOCRATS (23) Akaka (HI) Dodd (CT) Menendez (NJ) Bayh (IN) Durbin (IL) Mikulski (MD) Biden (DE) Feingold (WI) Murray (WA) Bingaman (NM) Feinstein (CA) Obama (IL) Boxer (CA) Harkin (IA) Reed, J. (RI) Byrd (WV) Kennedy, E. (MA) Sarbanes (MD) Cantwell (WA) Lautenberg (NJ) Wyden (OR) Dayton (MN) Leahy (VT)

INDEPENDENTS (1) Jeffords (VT)


REPUBLICANS (1) Bunning (KY) ?

DEMOCRATS (3) Baucus, M. (MT) ? Kerry (MA) ? Lieberman (CT) ?



National Ocean Industries Association
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