Jan 22 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) partnered with Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) to file an amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline bill requiring the Administration to set up procedures for leasing, exploring, and developing offshore oil and natural gas resources in Mid-Atlantic and South-Atlantic states, which would support hundreds of thousands of jobs and move America closer to energy independence.

The legislation instructs the Secretary of the Interior to finalize a five-year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022 that includes annual offshore leasing opportunities in both the Mid-Atlantic and South-Atlantic OCS regions. The Obama administration previously excluded these two regions in its OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012–2017. The Mid-Atlantic OCS region includes Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia, and the South-Atlantic OCS region includes Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Allowing offshore oil and natural gas exploration and production in Mid-Atlantic and South-Atlantic states could help support more than 142,000 jobs by 2035 according to a recent study conducted by Quest Offshore Resources. A wide range of industries would see significant job creation including mining, manufacturing, and construction.

The study found that in North Carolina, offshore energy exploration and development could support more than 55,000 jobs and generate nearly $4 billion in state government revenue from 2017 to 2035.

Under the Tillis and Burr Amendment, states would receive a 37.5 percent share of all revenues collected for OCS leasing activities. Revenues include leasing bids, rents, and royalties. Additionally, 12.5 percent of the revenues collected would be directed to the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The legislation prohibits any oil or gas lease within 30 miles of the nearest coastline. Additionally, already existing federal laws will continue to require that oil and natural gas exploration be conducted in a way that considers the impact on marine, coastal, and human environments.

“I made a promise to North Carolinians to advance commonsense priorities that help hardworking Americans and create new opportunities for our nation,” said Senator Tillis. “This legislation honors that promise by expanding offshore oil and natural gas exploration to Mid- and South-Atlantic states, which will support hundreds of thousands of jobs, reduce the cost of utilities for families, and move our nation closer to energy independence. Expanding offshore energy development will have a particularly beneficial impact for North Carolina by giving a significant boost to our state economy, supporting up to 55,000 jobs, and generating billions in revenues over the next several decades.”