The Republican-led House Thursday passed legislation that would enact the terms of a U.S.-Mexico transboundary agreement governing the development of shared oil and gas resources along the two countries’ maritime boundary in the Gulf of Mexico. President Obama earlier this week said he opposed the bill, but he stopped short of saying he would veto it.
The bill (H.R. 1613), which cleared the House 256 to 171, would implement the terms of the exploration and production agreement that was signed by the two nations in February 2012, assuming it is approved by the Senate and signed into law by Obama. Mexico approved the agreement last year.
The Obama administration said it supports the overarching goal of the transboundary agreement, but it said it cannot support the bill, as reported by the House Natural Resources Committee in mid-May, because it violates a requirement under the Dodd-Frank law (see Daily GPI, May 17). Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was one of the signatories to the agreement.
The administration specifically took issue with a provision in the House bill that would exempt companies participating in the transboundary development from complying with a Dodd-Frank requirement to report payments associated with resource extraction to the United States or foreign governments. “The provision directly and negatively impacts U.S. efforts to increase transparency and accountability, particularly in the oil, gas and minerals sector,” said the Office of Management Budget in a statement.
The administration said it looked forward to working with Congress on legislation that excludes the provision.
The leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee have proposed legislation to enact the transboundary agreement, but unlike the House measure, it does not give companies a pass on reporting their extraction payments to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The House Thursday also began debate on H.R. 2231, which would require the Interior Department to adopt a new five-year Outer Continental Shelf leasing plan. Obama has said he would veto this bill.
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