US House approves bill authorizing online offshore lease sales

The US House of Representatives has approved a bill that would give the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management authority to conduct federal offshore oil and gas lease sales online. The measure, which Reps. Garrett Graves (R-La.) and Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) introduced on June 24, passed the House by voice vote on Sept. 6.

HR 5577 would amend Sect. 8 of the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act by allowing BOEM to conduct federal OCS lease sales over the internet instead of in person. Supporters said it would make leasing more transparent by allowing the public to watch proceedings online where all related information also would be available. Online sales also would save money and be more efficient, they said.

If the measure becomes law, BOEM would follow the US Bureau of Land Management in moving from in-person to online federal oil and gas lease sales (OGJ Online, Sep. 1, 2016).

BLM, which administers onshore federal lands, acted under a provision in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which amended the 1920 Mineral Leasing Act to allow online lease sales. It was not subject to federal regulatory notice and comment requirements because it solely related agency procedures and simply restated the relevant statutory authority.

National Ocean Industries Association Pres. Randall B. Luthi applauded the House’s action. “Last month, BOEM successfully live-streamed its western Gulf of Mexico lease sale reading of bids and BLM issued its final rule to allow for internet-based onshore lease sales,” he said. “We have repeatedly seen that incorporating internet-based technologies are cost-effective improvements that can increase transparency and efficiency in the offshore lease sale process.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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