This week, the House could vote on three bills to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in the United States. Despite the fact Congress has done very little to actually make the process of drilling safer. Here is the rundown of the three bills on Big Oil’s wish list.
Let’s start with the most outlandish bill of all, H.R. 1231. This bill will ensure that oil drilling occurs off the East Coast from Maine to North Carolina, off the coast of Southern California, in the Arctic Ocean, and Bristol Bay. Mandating that at least half of the currently unleased areas in each region be put up for lease sales each and every time the government puts the outer continental shelf territory up for lease which would effectively open up all the acreage for drilling over the course of time. Under this bill, neither the current nor future administration could decide to limit drilling off the coast of New England, the Mid-Atlantic states, Southern California or Alaska because of economic or environmental concerns.
The second bill, H.R 1230 mandates that the government conduct three lease sales within the next year. The sales would occur for oil and gas drilling in the central and western Gulf of Mexico, and off the coast of Virginia. Removing restrictions on the areas the current administration decided not to release after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. This would short cut any environmental review before a sale, particularly, a court’s review of the Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and the National Environmental Policy Act.
The third bill, H.R. 1229 sets a time limit of 30 days for reviewing drilling permit applications and will grant automatic approvals if no action has been taken within 60 days. This would make environmental reviews of oil and gas drilling weaker than it was before the Gulf disaster.
photo source: alaska.boemre.gov