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Thursday, May 5, 2011

House votes to expand drilling in Gulf

Posted By on Thu, May 5, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1230 ("Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now" Act), which from the name you can assume wants to do exactly that. It's gunning for a few things: reopen 3 million acres off the coast of Virginia for drilling previously closed during the moratorium following the Gulf oil disaster, and speed up leasing in the Gulf of Mexico — under the mission to "expand American energy production, create jobs and generate revenue for taxpayers."

A reminder, here: there's been no Congressional action to secure environmental and safety considerations following the disaster. Instead, the House here wants a "do-over": expand oil lease areas and get Gulf drilling back on track. The resolution will enter the senate as increasing fears about summer's high gas prices spike nationally. Remember summer 2008? A months-long fear of paying more than $4 a gallon at the pump? (Sound familiar yet?) The then-democratically controlled congress let a moratorium on drilling in the outer continental shelf expire. Once again the gas gloves are off.

Voting in favor: Louisiana Republicans Rodney Alexander, Charles Boustany, Bill Cassidy, John Fleming, Jeff Landry and Steve Scalise, as well as Democrat Cedric Richmond, who last month said, "(BP) should be able to drill, as long as they follow the same rules that everybody else is following. ... We don't want to penalize BP for the incident. We want them to, of course, make citizens whole that were affected, and we'll never forget that we lost 11 lives in that incident. ... So we don't want a repeat of it, which is why the permitting process has been revamped and they're making sure that the safeguards are in place so we don't have another Horizon accident. ... If BP can make it through that then I think they should be allowed to drill.”

The nay votes: All Democrat, save Florida's Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and N.C.'s Walter Jones.

Heather Emmert, Gulf States Organizer with Environment America, said in a statement that the bills "double down on offshore drilling instead of protecting sensitive places, making drilling safer, increasing liability for economic damages, or doing anything to restore the Gulf. In effect, congress is telling oil companies and the drilling agency, ‘Forget the Gulf oil spill, forget the Oil Spill Commission recommendations, and full speed ahead on drilling.’"

A White House statement said it opposes HR 1230 as it would "undercut critical reforms" taken committed to “safe and responsible” drilling.

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