Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) Wednesday questioned Republican members of the Natural Resources Committee during a markup on legislation that would relax environmental regulations and surrender control of our coastal waters to Big Oil by allowing more offshore drilling. Almost one year after the BP Deepwater Horizon rig spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Pallone renewed his call for a prohibition on the expansion of areas open to offshore drilling.
"The bills before us today essentially cede control of our coastal waters to Big Oil," said Pallone. "If Republicans got their way, the American people would hold all of the risk for offshore drilling and the oil industry all of the profits and rewards. The legislation ignores the potential damage from offshore drilling by dispensing with any and all environmental safeguards recommended by the National Deepwater Horizon Commission."
Republican legislation before the committee would increase the likelihood of another oil spill by weakening regulations and setting deadlines for when officials can consider offshore drilling lease applications, and would require the Secretary of the Interior to open up previously off-limits coastal waters to offshore drilling.
Pallone offered several amendments during consideration of the bills in order to restrain some of the effects of the legislation.
One such amendment introduced by Pallone would protect the coasts of New York and New Jersey and prohibit any oil and gas leasing in those waters. Pallone further attempted to designate these waters as the Clean Ocean Zone, despite Republican objections. Another amendment would protect a larger area, by prohibiting oil and gas leases anywhere off the Atlantic coast.
"Where are the improved worker safety regulations that will help ensure that another blow out will not cost 11 human lives?" asked Pallone. "Instead of taking action to prevent another disaster we are here today voting on legislation that does nothing more than put more potential Deepwater Horizon disasters out there."