On Wednesday, the House approved H.R. 6082, the Congressional Replacement of the Administration's Offshore Drilling Plan. Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, voted against the measure.
The measure replaces the Obama Administration's current five-year offshore leasing plan and nearly doubles the amount of offshore leases made available for sale from 15 to 29.
Areas that have been previously withheld from oil development -- for reasons such as site-specific environmental concerns, a lack of necessary infrastructure, and the need for better spill-response capability in the planning areas -- would be put up for lease if this bill became law. Additionally, some of the new areas the GOP wants to put up for sale do not even have proven resources.
"I could not support a bill that ignores the hard lessons we learned from the worst environmental disaster in American history. Just two years ago, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico showed us how vulnerable we are to failures in oil exploration and drilling, and should have permanently reinforced in our minds the need for extreme care in allowing these operations," said Hanabusa.
The bill also accelerates the timeline of lease sales and requires the Interior Department to conduct a single environmental impact statement for offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Bristol Bay off Alaska. Having just one EIS for these different bodies of water with different conditions does not ensure the proper environmental review.
"While I will be the first to acknowledge that our nation remains dependent on oil and that we must continue to seek responsible ways to fill those needs, this bill surrenders protections, removes oversight provisions, and could prevent us from considering viable alternative drilling strategies. By opening up new areas to development, the bill also exposes additional areas to potential damage, without adequate consideration of the steps necessary to protect them.
"There are responsible ways to address our nation's need for oil. This isn't it."
A more responsible approach to addressing our national energy needs is President Obama's proposed offshore drilling plan, offering 15 lease sales and making 75-percent of our oil and gas resources available for drilling. It does not include the additional controversial leases that the GOP has repeatedly sought to make available. House Republicans expressed their disapproval of the President's plan by bringing it to the floor for the single purpose of voting it down. However, the House action does not affect the administration's power to implement the plan, which does not require Congressional approval.
"I voted for President Obama's plan because under his approach domestic oil production is at an 18-year high while oil imports have dropped to the lowest level in 17 years. We are reducing our nation's dependence on foreign oil while investing in clean energy initiatives that help develop our economy, preserve our environment, and provide all Americans with the quality of life they deserve. Why would Republicans want to change that?"
The GOP drilling plan passed by a vote of 253 to 170 and now heads to the Senate.