An important piece of offshore safety legislation that would have clearly defined how drilling safety plans in US waters should progress, is currently left hanging after lawmakers disagreed over revenue sharing payments to states.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was debating legislation that would enhance offshore drilling safety measures.  The legislation has been more than a year in the making, and the need for legislation like this had been strongly promoted by maritime lawyers and maritime safety advocates in the wake of the BP oil rig explosion last year.

The safety measures would’ve set new and stringent requirements for oil and gas drilling companies, and increased the current thirty-day time limit for the government to review exploration plans.  The legislation also provides for funds for hiring more numbers of inspectors.  The bill also includes a provision to formally organize the offshore drilling safety agency.

However, also at stake was the sharing of drilling revenues with states.  Some states have called for greater compensation because of the impact that drilling close to shore has on their local economies.  They were also concerned about another repeat of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the environmental spill that resulted.

Several senators argued about the revenue-sharing proposal, and those who backed the revenue-sharing proposal left the room.  This ensured that the remaining senators did not have the quorum required to vote on the legislation.

According to Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Democrat New Mexico, he does not know how to get the legislation back on track again, which means that, as of now, the bill has little hope of being revived.