The U.S. House of Representatives today passed H.R.1229, the Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act, with a vote of 263-163.
This irresponsible bill would force the Secretary of the Interior to rush environmental review of drilling permits within an arbitrary 30-day deadline. The bill also specifics that if a decision is not made within 60 days of the permit application date, that permit is automatically approved. This bill would also force the Department of the Interior to grant an automatic one-year extension on permits to Gulf leaseholders who halted operations after the BP oil spill, even though those permits were issued well before the DOI established new safety standards. Lastly, H.R. 129 would prohibit plaintiffs from recovering attorneys' fees, even if a federal court agrees that the federal government failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act or the Marine Mammal Protection Act. In addition, the bill established the Fifth Circuit as the exclusive venue for civil actions relating to offshore drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico, a benchy known for its industry-friendly decisions.
Another bill, H.R. 1231 is expected to be voted on tomorrow. This bill would mandate a doubling of the current amount of oil now extracted from the Outer Continental Shelf by 2027, and open all waters on the U.S. Atlantic coast, the Southern California coast, the Arctic Ocean and Alaska’s Bristol Bay to new offshore drilling.
“These pro-drilling bills push for drilling whether it’s safe or not, and favor industry profits over Americans’ livelihoods and health. Given the oil industry’s poor safety and environmental records, it should be carefully regulated. These bills do just the opposite,” said Oceana senior campaign director Jacqueline Savitz. “Big Oil has neglected safety, containment and spill response for decades, with a tragic result, which has not been fixed magically overnight.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 500,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.