WASHINGTON – In an election-year swipe at President Obama’s energy policies, the Republican-led House on Wednesday voted to revoke Obama’s five-year plan for offshore drilling, replacing it with its own plan that calls for more ambitious oil and gas development off the U.S. coast.
The legislation will likely go nowhere in the Senate and the White House has issued a veto threat, but as with the tax and regulatory bills the House is also taking up this month, it puts lawmakers on the record on the issues that divide the two parties.
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, said the bill would offer lawmakers a choice between Obama’s restrictive plan and the far more expansive GOP version that opens up areas off the Atlantic and Southern California for drilling.
The Interior Department on June 28 announced its 2012-17 offshore oil and gas leasing program that schedules 12 potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and three off the coast of Alaska. The White House, in its veto threat, said its plan makes available for development more than 75 percent of estimated, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in U.S. oceans.
The House bill, by contrast, provides for 29 lease sales over the same five-year period and includes areas of the Atlantic coast from Maine to Virginia, and areas off the southern coast of California as well as Alaskan and Gulf areas.
Hastings said the GOP plan would generate $600 million in additional revenue and create tens of thousands of jobs.
But Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, said the Republican bill would place drill rigs right off our beaches in Southern California as well as off beaches in Maine and other Eastern states.