Last month I highlighted a draft bill floated by House Republicans which would have gone further than any recent drilling proposal we’ve seen, and secure the Trump administration’s assault on our oceans. And today, the House Natural Resources Committee passed this legislation out of committee, with all Democrats present voting against the bill.
The bill changed a bit since last month, having been combined with an onshore drilling bill equally as onerous, and undergoing a few alterations. The offshore drilling section of the “SECURE American Energy Act” HR 4239 is a dismal list of oil industry giveaways at the expense of safety and communities. The offshore provisions include:
- Ends presidential authority under the Antiquities Act to establish any new Marine National Monuments (currently used to permanently protect areas of important scientific and historical significance for future generations).
- Removes presidential authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to permanently protect offshore areas from drilling, and removes any protections that have been created to date by any past presidents (excluding drilling in sanctuaries and marine national monuments).
- Nullifies a rule designed to increase safety in Arctic offshore drilling and prevent spills.
- Guts core provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and overrides the Endangered Species Act to fast-track seismic airgun blasting and additional activities that harm whales, dolphins and other marine mammals.
- Requires inclusion of unexecuted lease sales from the previous five-year leasing program in a revised leasing program and allows critical environmental review to be potentially bypassed.
- Diverts funds from the Federal Treasury to a handful of states to create perverse incentives to drill in sensitive areas, including the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Increases incentives to drill in the Gulf of Mexico as well.
This bill may have support from some Republicans in Congress, but communities that will be impacted by its extreme measures have rejected it outright. Offshore drilling is incredibly unpopular in the large majority of places that will impacted by it, red and blue communities alike. And now is the time for more action. With this comprehensive drilling package just waiting for a vote, all communities, businesses and individuals that oppose this threat to their economies and way of life should tell their members of congress now- vote NO on HR 4239.