Summary: H.R.1229 — 112th Congress (2011-2012)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (05/16/2011)

Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act - Title I: Amendment to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act - (Sec. 101) Amends the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to direct the Secretary of the Interior (who currently is only authorized) to require that any lessee operating under an approved exploration plan obtain: (1) a permit before drilling any well in accordance with such plan, and (2) a new permit before drilling any well of a design significantly different from the design for which an existing permit was issued.

Prohibits the Secretary from issuing a permit without ensuring that the proposed drilling operations meet all: (1) critical safety system requirements including blowout prevention, and (2) oil spill response and containment requirements.

Requires the Secretary to decide whether to issue a permit within 30 days after receiving an application. Allows up to two 15-day extensions of such deadline. Prescribes implementation procedures.

Imposes a deadline for certain permit applications under existing leases.

(Sec. 102) Directs the Secretary to extend by one year the term of an oil and gas lease (covered lease) for the Gulf of Mexico outer Continental Shelf (OCS) region that: (1) was not producing as of April 30, 2010; or (2) was suspended from operations, permit processing, or consideration in accordance with either the moratorium set forth in the Minerals Management Service Notice to Lessees and Operators No. 2010, or the decision memorandum regarding the suspension of certain offshore permitting and drilling activities on the OCS, dated July 12, 2010; and (3) by its terms would expire on or before December 31, 2011.

States that the extension of such covered leases is in addition to any suspension of operations or of production granted by the Minerals Management Service or Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement after May 1, 2010.

Title II: Judicial Review of Agency Actions Relating to Outer Continental Shelf Activities in the Gulf of Mexico - (Sec. 201) Defines a covered civil action as one seeking relief (other than money damages) and stating a claim that an agency or an agency officer or employee acted or failed to act in an official capacity or under color of legal authority regarding a covered energy project in the Gulf of Mexico.

Defines such a covered energy project as the leasing of federal lands of the OCS (including submerged lands) for the exploration, development, production, processing, or transmission of oil, natural gas, wind, or any other source of energy in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as any action under such a lease. Excludes from the meaning of covered energy project any disputes between the parties to a lease regarding the obligations under such lease, including any alleged breach of the lease.

(Sec. 202) Establishes any district court within the Fifth Circuit as the exclusive venue for covered civil actions relating to covered energy projects in the Gulf of Mexico, unless there is no proper venue within that circuit.

(Sec. 203) Bars a covered civil action unless it is filed within 60 days after the final federal action to which it relates.

(Sec. 204) Requires the court to try to hear and determine any covered action as expeditiously as possible.

(Sec. 205) Makes a presumption, in any judicial review of a covered civil action, that the administrative findings and conclusions relating to the challenged federal action or decision are correct. Allows rebuttal of this presumption only by the preponderance of the evidence contained in the administrative record.

(Sec. 206) Prohibits a court from granting or approving any prospective relief unless it finds that such relief: (1) is narrowly drawn, (2) extends no further than necessary to correct the violation of a legal requirement, and (3) is the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violation.

(Sec. 207) Prohibits federal payment of attorneys' fees, expenses, and other court costs to any party in a covered civil action under this Act.

Title III: Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act - Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act - (Sec. 302) Directs the Secretary of the Interior to conduct specified proposed offshore oil and gas lease sales as follows: (1) lease sale 216 in the Central Gulf of Mexico within four months after enactment of this Act; (2) lease sale 218 in the Western Gulf of Mexico within eight months after enactment of this Act; (3) lease sale 220 on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore Virginia within one year after enactment of this Act; and (4) lease sale 222 in the Central Gulf of Mexico no later than June 1, 2012.

(Sec. 304) Prohibits the Secretary from making any Offshore Virginia tract available for leasing if it would conflict with military operations.

Declares that, for purposes of such proposed lease sales, specified Environmental Impact Statements are deemed to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.