Rep. Brian Bilbray voted against legislation tonight that would have opened up California's and San Diego's coasts to additional drilling and offensively denied California access to the royalties produced from drilling. The 290-page bill was not made available to members of Congress until 10:00 p.m. yesterday night and brought it to the House floor without the ability to offer any amendments.
"This bill was bad for California, bad for our overall national energy policy and there is no way I could have supported it," said Rep. Bilbray, a former lifeguard, Coastal Commissioner and member of the Air Resources Board. "This bill asks our state to allow more drilling with nothing in return - the royalties produced from California shores would instead go to the federal government."
Under current law, most states receive 27% of Outer Continental Shelf royalty receipts. In the 109th Congress selected Gulf States (not including California) received an increase in their share to 37.5% of the revenue generated from specific federal oil and gas leases off their coast. Onshore states generally receive 50% of rents, bonuses and royalties collected, except Alaska, which receives 90%.
"This bill continues the flawed policy of choosing energy winners and losers by subsidizing ethanol and not fixing language that denies access to more promising and efficient options like algae based fuel sources," Rep. Bilbray added. "After keeping the House out-of-session for the past six weeks, Speaker Pelosi produced a 290-page bill that wasn't even made available for review until the night before the vote. There is no question that the Congress needs to act swiftly to address the energy crisis, but that action should not take place behind closed doors out of the public view."
Rep. Bilbray supports a comprehensive energy policy that protects the authority of the state to opt-in or out of drilling, provides states with access to their fair share of drilling revenues and invests in biofuels, wind, solar and nuclear power alternatives.