WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Bipartisan leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives returned from recesses to pass a measure that would move offshore oil and gas leasing to the Internet.
The Innovation in Offshore Leasing Act, introduced to Reps. Garret Graves, R-La., and Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., would give the federal Department of the Interior authority to hold offshore oil and natural gas leases online.
In a statement, Graves said moving the process to the Internet would increase competition and cut out some of the costs associated with holding leases in public space.
"Making government work better for people, the way it's supposed to, is a primary goal in everything we do up here, and this bill is designed with that in mind," he said.
With nearly all of the offshore oil and natural gas produced in the United States coming from the Gulf of Mexico, the federal government has characterized the area as "one of the world's most prolific hydrocarbon basins."
"We have repeatedly seen that incorporating internet-based technologies are cost-effective improvements that can increase transparency and efficiency in the offshore lease sale process," he said in a statement.
Last month, the government put its latest lease sale for western parcels in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico online in real time.
The House measure could be limiting in that it offers the federal government little time to switch to an internet-based system. Moving auctions online could also sideline groups opposed to offshore oil and gas drilling.
Environmental groups last month traveled to New Orleans, the site of the latest auction, to protest by suggesting devastating flooding in Louisiana was the result of the reliance on fossil fuels.