A US House of Representatives committee has approved a new energy bill that’s expected to widen the country’s offshore oil and natural gas production.

As well as the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, the committee has also passed two other bills, the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act and the Young’s Native American Energy Act.

All now need Senate approval before they can become a policy.

The committee passed the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act by a 23-18 vote.

The bill aims to unlock resources in the Outer Continental Shelf to offshore oil and gas drilling and increase the US Government’s lease sales off the coasts of California, South Carolina and Virginia.

In addition, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act is expected to make modifications to the US Department of Interior’s leasing and oversight of oil drilling, which were incorporated after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

"The committee passed the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act by a 23-18 vote."

New Jersey Republican Representative, Jon Runyan, made an attempt to include an amendment in the bill, which would make offshore drilling contingent on a popular vote in the state off of which drilling would take place.

Washington Republican Representative and the committee’s chairman, Doc Hastings, however said that such a vote could not stop drilling, since waters more than three miles offshore are federal government jurisdiction and not subject to state law.

The committee passed the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act by a 26-14 vote despite opposition from democrats. The bill will enable the reserve to carry out sale of oil and gas lease.

The Young’s Native American Energy Act was approved by the committee by a 25-15 vote to liberalise development of energy resources on Indian trust land.

The bill is expected to restrict the US Government’s environmental reviews for certain tribal energy projects.

Image: Map of the Outer Continental Shelf; Photo: Courtesy of OCS Alternative Energy and Alternate Use Programmatic EIS Information Center.