The Reagan administration topped one hurdle yesterday in its efforts to get its offshore oil leasing program back on track, but a congressional panel quickly erected another one by voting to extend a moratorium on oil exploration off New England and California.
In a news conference yesterday, the administration announced its approval of a proposal to divide $5.8 billion of offshore oil revenue among the federal government and seven coastal states. The issue had been a sore point between federal and state officials for years and had contributed to state resistance to the administration's ambitious plans for more offshore leasing.
The formula, contained in the House budget resolution that passed last month, would give the federal government $4 billion, and the states would divide the remaining $1.8 billion. The revenues come from leased oil and gas tracts that straddle state and federal waters.
The administration wanted a larger share, but, in a letter to Rep. W. Henson Moore (R-La.), Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman accepted the congressional formula.
Interior Secretary Donald Hodel has made settlement of the so-called 8(g) revenue dispute a major part of the department's efforts to overcome congressional and state opposition to expanded oil leasing.
But hours earlier, Hodel suffered a setback in another arena, when the House Appropriations interior subcommittee approved by voice vote another one-year ban in oil and gas drilling off central and northern California and the Georges Bank fishing grounds off Massachusetts.