A US Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources on Wednesday held a hearing into a proposed bill to effectively open up vast areas of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to offshore drilling for oil and gas.
The Accessing Strategic Resources Offshore (ASTRO) Act, if passed, would revise the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) and undo actions of the previous administration of President Barack Obama.
Those actions included withdrawals of acreages and proposals under Five Year Plans which put 94% of the OCS off limits to energy exploration and development.
Among ASTRO’s proposals would be empowering the Secretary of the Interior to conduct lease sales in areas excluded from Five-Year Plans. It would also limit the president’s ability to withdraw OCS areas from leasing and eliminate his authority under the Antiquities Act to establish marine national monuments.
And it would reverse the post-Deepwater Horizon separation of two agencies, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), putting them back together.
One of President Donald Trump’s main campaign promises was to unshackle the energy sector from restrictions and regulations in order to boost the domestic economy, to create thousands of jobs for Americans and to strengthen homeland security by reducing the country’s dependence on imported energy.