Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.2231, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, a reckless bill that would nearly double U.S. offshore drilling, force new lease sales off the coasts of Virginia, South Carolina and Southern California, and gut critical environmental safeguards. H.R.2231 is yet another giveaway to Big Oil that puts offshore drilling above all else while gutting critical environmental safeguards and doing nothing to make us more energy independent.
As if H.R.2231 wasn’t damaging enough, Representative Scott Rigell (R-VA) offered an amendment to the bill that would speed up seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic. Seismic airgun testing allows oil and gas companies to blast pulses of incredibly loud sound - 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine - across huge sections of the Atlantic every 10-12 seconds, 24 hours a day, for weeks and months on end. These blasts could injure or kill hundreds of thousands of marine mammals and fish, including endangered species. Mr. Rigell’s amendment forces the Department of the Interior to start issuing permits for this dangerous seismic airgun testing before the end of the year.
Unfortunately, Mr. Rigell’s amendment passed the House of Representatives and, as such, became part of Offshore Energy and Jobs Act. We're especially disappointed in the vote of Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16), who voted FOR the Rigell amendment even though he signed a letter to the President in April expressing his opposition to the proposed seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic. And Mr. Buchanan didn’t stop there – he also voted for final passage of H.R.2231! Mr. Buchanan needs to hear from constituents like you to let him know that these votes do not go unnoticed.
But there is some good news! Most of New Jersey’s Republican representatives voted against both Mr. Rigell’s amendment AND the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act. Oceana would especially like to thank Representatives Frelinghuysen (R-NJ-11), Lance (R-NJ-07), LoBiondo (R-NJ-02), Runyan (R-NJ-03), and Smith (R-NJ-04) for voting against increased drilling and standing up for the oceans!
If you think seismic testing in the Atlantic and expanding offshore oil and gas drilling are a big deal, then call your representative in Congress to let him or her know what you think! They need to hear from you!