The House passed a bill that could allow coastal states to open up the outer continental shelf to exploration for oil and natural gas supplies that the legislation’s sponsors say are needed to increase energy resources in the United States.

The bill, the Deep Ocean Energy Resources or DOER Act of 2006, was approved by a vote of 232 to 187. It faces an uncertain future in the Senate where filibuster rules could make it easier for environmentalist-leaning senators to keep it bottled up.

“Today (Thursday) marks a historic day for the House of Representatives and the United States,” said House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif. “Never before have we accomplished so much for American jobs and energy security in single, stand-alone bill.”

Pombo said the bill will “finally correct the one-size-fits-all bans that were enacted during times when energy production and environmental protection were thought to be mutually exclusive. They are not, and today a bipartisan majority in the House voted for both.”

A bipartisan group of representatives including two Louisiana Congressmen – Bobby Jindal, a Republican, and Charlie Melancon, a Democrat; Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa.; and Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, helped craft the bill.

“My bill provides incentives for more domestic production, allows states to have more control over energy activity off their coasts and encourages production from new energy sources,” said Jindal.

The bill will reduce energy costs and help the country to begin to reduce its dependence on foreign sources. It will also allow states like Louisiana to have a greater share in the benefits from energy production, Jindal noted.

“Louisiana’s coastlines have borne the brunt of the consequences of energy exploration for decades, and this legislation will help restore our coastlines for generations to come,” he said. “The overwhelming support for my bill today sends a strong message to the Senate that now is the time for reform of how we distribute our nation's energy royalties.”

“I applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the DOER Act, and I encourage the Senate to also recognize the importance of this legislation and vote for passage,” said Melancon. “In Louisiana, this bill will ensure that for the first time since drilling began off our coasts 50 years ago, we will receive a fair share of the royalties this industry generates for the federal treasury.”

Louisiana’s General Assembly has passed a constitutional amendment that would require the state to dedicate the new revenue to building a comprehensive hurricane protection and coastal restoration system that will protect a vulnerable population of more than 1 million people.

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