U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today expressed support for approving the Transboundary Agreement between the United States and Mexico during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on legislation to approve the agreement and provide the Secretary of Interior authority to implement it.
"I view this agreement as an important step toward greater North American energy security," Murkowski said. "The Congressional Research Service says that the United States and Canada are "joined at the well' when it comes to energy, and I believe we should strive for the same relationship with Mexico. Though we are strong trading partners and closely tied economically, more cooperation and integration is necessary to reach this goal."
The agreement, which establishes a legal framework for developing oil and natural gas reservoirs that straddle the U.S.-Mexico maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico, was signed by Mexico and the United States on February 20, 2012, and ratified by the Mexican Senate two months later. It now needs to be ratified by the U.S. Senate before it expires in February 2014.
"Energy is already flowing between our two countries. Mexico remains one of the top exporters of crude oil to the United States, and we are Mexico's largest supplier of petroleum products," Murkowski said. "Approval of the Transboundary Agreement will allow this relationship to continue and grow."
The Transboundary Agreement:
Lifts the moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the Western Gap;
Provides legal certainty for development along the entire transboundary area;
Opens access to over a million new acres on the Outer Continental Shelf, hundreds of millions of barrels of oil, and billions of cubic feet of natural gas; and
Encourages the promotion of common safety and environmental standards, while ensuring that each country retains authority over activity in their respective waters.
The hearing considered both the House (H.R.1613) and Senate (S.812) versions of the bill. The House passed its version in June.