Cassidy leads effort to protect offshore energy small businesses from Interior Dept rule

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) led a bipartisan group of senators in urging the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to delay implementing a proposed rule that would harm small businesses operating in the offshore oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

The senators, in an Aug. 17 letter to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, called for the DOI to extend the public comment period for the Outer Continental Shelf financial assurance proposed rule. The lawmakers explained that the proposed rule would make changes to the financial assurance regime to secure decommissioning obligations for the offshore oil and gas industry and would impose additional bonding requirements on the small businesses that produce 35 percent of the oil and gas from the Gulf of Mexico.

“As Members of Congress concerned about our domestic energy supply and production, in addition to the well-being of small businesses, we respectfully request you extend the comment period deadline for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking titled Risk Management and Financial Assurance for OCS Lease and Grant Obligations (the proposed rule) from 60 to 120 days,” wrote the senators. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) also signed the letter, along with U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Kennedy (R-LA).

The small businesses that would be negatively impacted by the rule contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy and employ thousands of workers across the nation, the letter said.

Sen. Cassidy and his colleagues also noted that DOE acknowledges the rule would deter new oil and gas exploration, development, and production offshore.

The letter said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management should extend the public comment period on the proposed rule to 120 days in order to allow for “a detailed and robust public record on the workability and effects of the proposed rule.”