Energy: GOP seeks to force more offshore drilling

Anti-environmental energy bill would increase heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions and risk more oil spills

Surfers, and many other coastal conservation advocates, are not happy with a GOP plan to open vast new ocean areas to offshore oil and gas drilling. Bob Berwyn photo.
A bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would require the Obama administration to open huge new areas for offshore fossil fuel development.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Just a few days after President Obama described the urgent need to move away from fossil fuels, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would result in even more heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.

Playing their well-worn jobs and gas prices card, House Republicans pushed through the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act (H.R. 2231), a measure that would open nearly all coastal areas to offshore drilling.

“President Obama came into office with a tremendous opportunity to expand America’s offshore oil and natural gas production. Instead, he said NO to new American jobs and NO to new American energy by canceling lease sales, placing more offshore areas off-limits,and effectively re-imposing an offshore drilling moratorium,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings said after the vote.

The bill would require new drilling off Southern California, Virginia, South Carolina, and Alaska, and overall require a doubling of offshore domestic oil production. It will face stiff opposition from various advocacy groups and probably doesn’t have much of a chance of Senate passage.

The anti-environmental House GOP majority pushed the measure to play to its constituents, knowing that there isn’t widespread public support for more offshore oil drilling.

Here’s what the Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Program manager, Pete Stauffer, had to say about the measure: “The Surfrider Foundation is deeply dismayed by the House’s decision to expand offshore oil drilling off the California coast, the Atlantic coast, and elsewhere. Offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous practice that threatens the health of our oceans and the communities that depend on them. Instead of advocating for more offshore drilling, Congress should develop a comprehensive and sustainable energy plan that includes conservation.”

The measure would require the Administration to move forward with new offshore energy production in areas containing the most oil and natural gas resources – including the Atlantic Coast and Pacific Coast.

It also requires the Secretary of the Interior to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales that have been delayed or cancelled by the Obama Administration and implements a fair, equitable revenue sharing program for all coastal states.

Republicans claim the bill would generate  $1.5 billion in new revenue over ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office and could create up to 1.2 million jobs long-term.


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