Yesterday, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) introduced an amendment in the Natural Resources Committee markup of H.R. 6082 that removed proposed oil and gas lease sales in the Atlantic Ocean from the bill. The original legislation will enable Big Oil companies the ability to lease five areas in the Atlantic for oil exploration, which would put the valuable coasts at risk.
H.R. 6082 accelerates the timetable for oil companies to lease waters around the United States for oil drilling. It requires the Department of Interior to move forward with leases in waters including the east and west coasts. The bill also revives a Bush Administration plan which calls for leases to be issued in the mid-Atlantic and North Atlantic regions.
"Just two years after the BP oil spill devastated the Gulf, this bill brought forth by the Republican Majority expands drilling without any thought to safety and environmental safeguards," said Pallone. "In New Jersey our ocean environment is integral to our economy, impacting commercial and recreational fishermen, seafood distributors and coastal tourism. This bill puts all of that at risk for the sake of increasing Big Oil's profits."
Pallone called for a focus on renewable energy sources, rather than oil drilling which has limited short-term impact and could seriously damage the ocean environment and hurt coastal economies.
"At this time we should recognize that we simply cannot drill our way to energy independence, and instead we should focus on investing in a clean energy strategy that reduces our dependence on foreign oil and moves us towards a new era of clean energy jobs," Pallone added.