President Signs Murphy Energy Bill

Chairman John M. Murphy of the Ad Hoc Select Committee on the Outer Continental Shelf applauded the signing by President Carter of S. 9, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendments of 1978. The new law establishes a revised statutory regime for the management of our offshore oil and gas resources. Mr. Murphy hailed the law as "one of the key energy/environmental measures of the 95th Congress." With a sense of accomplishment, Representative Murphy declared: "This moment is particularly satisfying for me because of the diligent efforts of the Ad Hoc Select Committee on the Outer Continental Shelf over the past three and one-half years to update the outmoded 1953 Act. For the first time in the history of Congress, the House set up a special Ad Hoc Select Committee to handle a piece of major legislation. And the special procedure worked! The culmination of this effort embodied in the newly signed OCS law comes at an especially meaningful time with the recent announcement by Texaco of the discovery of natural gas in the Baltimore Canyon. The need for this law is clearly illustrated as we move into new areas of oil and gas production.

"When the OCS Committee began its work in 1975, the nation was importing approximately 35 percent of its crude oil. That percentage has risen quickly and steadily. Our imports of foreign crude oil now periodically exceed 50 percent of our domestic consumption," Chairman Murphy stated. "The oil and gas reserves on the U.S. outer continental shelf will be our nation's largest new domestic sources of energy between now and the 1990s." Summarizing the important provisions of the 1978 OCS Amendments, Chairman Murphy concluded that "the new law will provide for the expeditious but orderly development of our OCS resources; protect the environment by requiring an environmental impact statement before development; enhance competition by instituting new alternate bidding systems; and increase OCS safety by requiring the use of the best available and safest technology. It provides that OCS vessels and rigs will be crewed and manned by U.S. citizens which will bring increased employment; requires due diligence on leases to expedite development and dramatically increases state, local government, and citizen input into the OCS decision-making process. In addition, the legislation provides for special funds for OCS oil-spill pollution; for damage to fishing vessels and gear from OCS activities; and to coastal states to ameliorate adverse OCS impacts."

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