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Recent bonus bids have been somewhat lower than anticipated by the Interior Department. The December, 1975, California sale is particularly noteworthy in this regard. Interior predicted that bidding might run as high as $2 billion, although only $417.3 million was finally accepted. The fact that in lease sale 40 greater bonus bids were received than had been projected by Interior, only underscores the unrealiability of DOI's tracts evaluation and the data upon which they are based.
Clearly, the explanation for these apparent trends is multidimensional. The lack of experience in frontier areas (and, in Alaska, hazardous conditions) ; deeper OCS depths requiring more sophisticated and expensive equipment and technologies; the unpredictability of an accelerated lease schedule itself which may require a more rapid expenditure of capital for bonus money; the potential threat of state and community law suits to block the location of onshore facilities; and the continued opposition of some groups to stepping up OCS development are all relevant factors in explaining these recent patterns.
In brief, the "shortfall” in recent OCS leasing activity may be the result of a myriad of uncertainties. Some, of course, are beyond the control of legislation. Others, however, are subject to resolution by congressional and Executive action.
THE CONGRESSIONAL RESPONSE
The first major congressional action to amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act occurred during the second session of the 93d Congress.
On September 18, 1974, the Senate passed S. 3221, the Energy Supply Act of 1974. S. 3221 was an omnibus bill providing for changes in the bidding system, OCS revenues to the States, strict liability for accidents, increased exploration by the Government, increased inspections of installations by the Government, increased research of oil and gas resources, strict safety and environmental regulations, citizen suits to enforce provisions of the OCS Lands Act, strict liability for oil spills, power to the governor of the adjacent states to request postponent of lease sales, requirements that areas with less environmental hazard be leased first, and establishment of a national strategic energy reserve. No action was taken by the House on this bill.
In the 94th Congress, the Senate again took the first step to amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, having established a public record during its consideration of S. 3221. On July 30, 1975, by a vote of 67–19, the Senate passed S. 521, a bill to provide for the orderly exploration of energy resources on the OCS.
On July 16, 1975, the Senate passed S. 586 by a 73–15 vote. This legislation amended the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 and included the establishment of a coastal energy facility impact program. By the use of grants, loans, automatic OCS-related payments, and federally-guaranteed State and local bonds, S. 586 provided a Federal assistance network to aid coastal States which are likely to be impacted by OCS and other types of energy activities in the coastal zone.
In the House, S. 586 was referred to the Oceanography Subcommittee of the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. On February 4, 1976, the full committee reported its version of the Senate legislation on a 36–0 vote. H.R. 3981 was passed by the House on March 11, 1976 on a 370–14 vote. A conference committee met on May 17, 1976 to reconcile the differences between the bills, and finished its work on June 8, 1976. The conference report was agreed to by voice vote in the Senate on June 29, 1976, and was agreed to by the House the following day by a vote of 381-14. On July 26, 1976 President Ford signed the Coastal Zone Management Act Amendments of 1976 into law.
Whereas the amendments to the Coastal Zone Management Act were within purview of only one Committee in the House, jurisdiction over the Outer Continental Shelf program was highly fragmented. A special procedure had to be adopted.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES : ESTABLISHMENT
OF A SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Early in the first session of the 94th Congress, some Members of the House of Representatives became concerned that bills to amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953, would have to be referred to three or more committees of the House pursuant to rule X, clause 5(c). It was recognized that it would be extraordinarily difficult and
time-consuming for the House to act on a major revision of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act if several committees were to exercise concurrent jurisdiction over different aspects of any new legislation. Action of this legislation needed to be prompt especially as the administration was accelerating the Federal program for the leasing of Outer Continental Shelf lands to allow oil and gas exploration and production.
In March of 1975, it was recommended to the Speaker of the House that a special committee be created for the sole purpose of considering such legislation and reporting it to the full House, and that the special committee be composed of members of the various committees with jurisdiction in this area. Therefore, on April 22, 1975, then Majority Leader Thomas P. O'Neill introduced H. Res. 412, requesting the establishment of an Ad Hoc Select Committee on Outer Continental Shelf. 29 Membership of, and staff for, this special committee was to be drawn from the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, and the Committee on the Judiciary. On the same day, Hon. John M. Murphy, Peter W. Rodino, and Leonor K. Sullivan introduced H.R. 6218, a comprehensive bill to amend the OCSLA. That day the House passed H. Res. 412, by unanimous consent, and the Ad Hoc Committee was established. H.R. 6218 was referred to the Select Committee, which was directed to transmit its findings and report on this matter to the full House by January 31, 1976. By House Resolutions 977 and 1121, the reporting day was extended to May 4, 1976.
Questions of jurisdiction and organization were resolved during the first three meetings of the committee on April 30, May 13, and June 24, 1975, and an additional three members were added to the committee, bringing it to a total of 19 members. The first inspections and set of hearings were held in Louisiana, where the committee visited off-shore drilling platforms, an oil refinery, and other OCS-related industry.
Hearings were begun on June 7 in New Orleans, where 32 witnesses testified, including the Governors of Louisiana and Texas, representatives of Louisiana state and local government, of oil industry, of onshore service industry, of environmental groups, and representatives of regional offices of Federal agencies having jurisdiction over various aspects of OCS development.
Three days of hearings were then held in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 18, and 19, where the committee heard testimony from Members of Congress, Federal agencies, and representatives of environmental, professional, industry, and governmental associations.
On June 26, members of the committee and staff flew to London, Scotland, and Norway on a 7-day series of briefings, inspections, and meetings dealing with oil and gas exploration and development in the North Sea.
Hearings were held in New York City on July 18 and 19, 1975, to consider the problems related to expected OCS development off the New York and northern New Jersey coast. Prior to the hearings, the committee attended a briefing presented by regional representatives of the Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Energy Administration and the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management. Another briefing was presented by Rutgers University based on data of an Office of Technology Assessment project as to possible impact of expected OCS activities in the Baltimore Canyon Trough off New Jersey. Following the briefings, the committee heard from a series of panels representing Government, industry, environmentalists, labor, business and technology. A total of 33 witnesses presented their views to the committee over the course of these 2 days.
20 New rule & clause 5(c) adopted Jan. 3, 1975, allows the Speaker to refer a bill simultaneously to two or more committees. Prior to the adoption of this rule, a bill or resolution could not be divided for multiple Committee referral.
On July 25 and 26, 1975, further hearings were held in Ocean City, N.J., and Philadelphia, Pa. as to expected OCS activity off the New Jersey coast. The committee toured the New Jersey coastal areas to familiarize itself with these potentially impacted areas.
From August 2 to August 8, 1975, committee members and staff conducted a series of field hearings and on-site oil and gas facility inspections in California and Alaska. The hearings held on August 2, in Los Angeles, Calif. included testimony from the State's Governor and the City's mayor, in addition to representatives of industry, labor, consumer, and environmental groups. On August 3, 1975, en route to San Francisco, the committee members and staff inspected offshore platforms and oil facilities in Santa Barbara, Calif., site of the 1969 oil spill. The hearings held on August 4, 1975, in San Francisco, concluded the California segment of the trip.
Hearings were then held on August 5 and 6, 1975, in Yakutat and Cordova, Alaska. Testimony was heard from government officials, including the Governor of Alaska, and local citizens and fishermen. On the morning of August 8, 1975, the members and staff participated in a tour of an onshore gas processing facility in Kenai. That afternoon, concluding hearings were held in Anchorage, Alaska. Prior to returning to Washington, D.C., the committee inspected drilling operations on the North Slope of Alaska at Prudhoe Bay.
Hearings were then held in New England to consider expected OCS activity in the Georges Bank area. One day of hearings on September 12, 1975, was held in New London, Conn. where numerous (39) witnesses testified, including the Governors of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Prior to the hearings, the committee attended a briefing session with Coast Guard, Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency representatives. On September 13, 1975, the committee heard testimony in Boston, Mass. from Members of Congress, the Governors of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, and numerous panels representing government, labor, industry, and environmentalists.
The hearings held on September 26, 1975, in Ocean City, Md., as to expected OCS activity off Maryland and Delaware completed the committee's scheduled field hearings and inspections of oil and gas facilities in potentially impacted areas.
During October, the committee attended 3 days of briefings held in Washington, D.C., presented by the American Petroleum Institute on October 21, 1975, the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress on October 22, 1975, and by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists on October 24, 1975.
On November 13, 14, and 20, 1975, the final set of hearings was completed in Washington, D.C.