Conservation Funding Protection Act Would Secure Offshore Energy Production Access

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today cosponsored legislation to protect jobs and energy exploration opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico and the conservation efforts funded by those activities.

The Conservation Funding Protection Act would ensure that American energy producers would retain access to critical energy reservoirs on the Outer Continental Shelf.  Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) authored the legislation.

“The Gulf of Mexico’s bountiful natural resources have been a cornerstone in the resurgence of American energy independence.  Revenues generated from federal leases have also supported a multitude of critical conservation and restoration projects along the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” Wicker said.  “The Conservation Funding Protection Act would guarantee our valuable resources are managed responsibly and that states can continue to invest in projects that will sustain their coastlines for generations to come.”

“The Conservation Funding Protection Act is important to help ensure Mississippians continue to have access to well-paying jobs, while also continuing to provide the state with oil and natural gas revenues for vital conservation projects in Mississippi and on a national level,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The bill addresses growing concerns that access to leasing opportunities on the Outer Continental Shelf could be jeopardized following the recent extension of a drilling moratorium off Florida waters lasting until 2032.  Production from the Outer Continental Shelf funds critical conservation, coastal restoration, hurricane preparedness, wetland mitigation, and public lands maintenance efforts.

The Conservation Funding Protection Act would require at least two area-wide lease sales per year on available acreage in the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico.  Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Secretary of the Interior is to establish a schedule for lease sales on the Outer Continental Shelf but does not mandate the number of lease sales the department is required to hold.

This bill would maintain all current environmental laws and ensure that the Department of the Interior conducts the environmental reviews required by law within clear timeframes.  The legislation does not alter environmental regulations for lease sales, rig operations or exploration.

Some projections estimate that a permitting ban on natural gas and oil leasing and development projects on federal lands and waters, such as the Outer Continental Shelf, would result in the loss of nearly 1 million oil and gas-related jobs within two years and significantly decrease offshore energy production with a decade.

The American Petroleum Institute, National Ocean Industries Association, International Association of Drilling Contractors, International Association for Geophysical Chemistry, Petroleum Equipment and Service Association, and other organizations support the legislation.

Press Release

12/2/2020