The House is expected to vote tomorrow on a bill that could re-open oil drilling off California’s coast.
H.R. 1231, the “Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act,” would do just that, requiring the Interior Department to offer leases in every area with significant oil deposits three miles off the coast.
The California State Lands Commission – consisting of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, state Controller John Chiang and state Finance Director Ana Matosantos – passed a resolution April 28 opposing this bill, and Newsom wrote to Congressional leaders today urging that it be voted down.
Newsom wrote that House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., “intends to mandate oil and gas drilling off all U.S. coasts and weaken the system for reviewing offshore drilling – even after last year’s disaster in the Gulf.”
“Healthy coasts and oceans are a critical priority for California, yet these bills counter California’s short and long term environmental goals, Newsom wrote. “California’s state and local governments, businesses, and civil society are all devoted to managing, protecting, and restoring our marine environment for the benefit of current and future generations. These bills would undermine the state’s efforts to keep our ocean clean and protect fisheries, marine life and key habitats.
Newsom said Hastings’ “drill-at-all-costs” mentality would actually weaken existing oversight, and contradicts the renewable energy policies the nation should be pursuing.
“It is imperative that the United States does not fall further behind in the development of efficient renewable power,” he said, citing his tenure as San Francisco’s mayor. “In my two terms elected, we voted to reach a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2020 and are well on our way towards it. These goals can and should be implemented at a wider scale without having to resort to mandated oil drilling. I challenge our government to mandate stricter renewable standards, and challenge our engineers to develop carbon zero technology.”
The House last week passed Hastings’ H.R. 1230, the “Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act,” on a 266-149 vote; that bill dealt with four specific oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off Virginia’s coast.
Today, the House grappled with amendments to Hastings’ H.R. 1229, which would give the Interior Department a 30-day window in which to decide on Gulf of Mexico drilling applications. Among those amendments was one by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, which would’ve required the Interior Secretary, when reviewing drilling permits, to consult with an independent drilling safety organization not affiliated with the oil industry trade association; his amendment was defeated on a 169-240 vote.
None of these bills are likely to fare well in the Democrat-dominated U.S. Senate, which was abuzz today with talk of ending tax subsidies for oil companies.