The oil industry lost the first round yesterday in a House fight over revising rules for oil on the outer continental shelf. It will try again to weaken the administration-backed bill next week.
In other energy actions in Congress yesterday:
Senate Democrats avoided a fight by naming both sens. Wendell Anderson(D-Minn) and John Melcher (D-Mont) to the Senate Energy Committee to replace the late Sen. Lee Metcalf (D-Mont). This increased the size of the committee from 18 to 19 members at least for the rest of this year and changes the lineup on oil-gas issues from 9 to 9 to 10 to 9 in favor of the industry which Melcher has supported in his votes.
Neither senator is expected to be named to the conference on the energy bill which has been unable to agree on a natural gas pricing bill because of the Senate deadlock.
The Senate Energy Committee staff drafted and is circulating among senators a new possible gas compromise that the Senate might submit to the House to start the conference moving. It has not been endorsed by any committee members.
The proposal is for phased deregulation of new gas prices instead of continued regulation as President Carter wanted and dereuulation as voted by the Senate. It would raise the price of new gas now from $1.47 per thousand cubic feet to $2 and let it rise by about 10 per cent a year until the end of 1982 when controls would end. The President could reimpose controls subject to congressional veto.
draft proposal also would permit federal allocoation of intrastate gas to other areas of the country in an emergency. This is fiercely resisted by producing states but is demanded by Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.), Senate Energy Committee chairman.
The outer continental shelf bill would, according to its sponsors, broaden competition for drilling leases, speed up development of this crucial energy source, give states more say about drilling off their coasts and permit the government to learn more about the potential value of offshore lands before it sell private operators the right to drill for oil.
The oil-gas industry has fought the bill for three years, saying it would cause more delay by imposing more regulations and permitting more lawsuits and would cost the government revenue by requiring new bidding methods.
Yesterday the House rejected, 211 to 187, an industry substitute offered by Rep. John Breaux (D-La.). Breuax said he will offer a slimmed down version of his proposal when the House return to the bill next Tuesday.
Breaux called his substitute a compromise, but Rep. John Murphy (D-N.Y.), floor manager of the bill, said it would "in a veiled but effective fashion gut" the bill.
Murphy's bill seeks to broaden competition for leases by requiring that at least half be bid on by some method other than the present one of cash bonuses. This has limited offshore drilling mostly to big companies with large amounts of capital.
Breaux would have turned that around by requiring that at least half the leases be bid on under the present arrangement. He also would knock out the new authority to the government to contract for exploratory drilling, would change a program of aid to affected coast states to a formula that would give most of the money to currently producing states such as Louisiana and would change the bill's clean air provisions.
Breaux said yesterday his present plan is to drop his sections on aid to states and clean air and reoffer the rest of his substitute when the House resumes action on the bill next Tuesday.