In May, the House will begin consideration of the GOP's 'Drill Only' energy bills that will not bring down prices at the pump, rather than voting to end the Exxon earmarks. These bills are a boon to Big Oil - which is already raking in nearly $36 billion in profits and having its best year since 2008 - that would make another catastrophic oil spill more likely.
By a vote of 266-149, the House passed H.R. 1230 on May 5th. The bill is a blatant political attempt to use rising gasoline prices as an excuse to grant enormous, multi-national energy companies access to the Gulf with less oversight - rushing lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico with unreasonable time limits and without proper environmental review. H.R. 1230 would require the Secretary of the Interior to hold a number of lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico in the next four to eight months (the Obama Administration is already planning these by for later this year or next) and open the East Coast for drilling requiring a lease sale off the Coast of Virginia this year. For these sales, the bill would require the Interior Department to rely on environmental reviews done by the Bush Administration prior to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, with many of the same demonstrably flawed and dangerous assumptions and inadequate review as the BP lease.
- The bill is unnecessary as the Administration is already moving forward with the lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico in the bill, except that they are being reviewed to ensure sound safety and environment protections with those leases.
- American oil production is at its highest level since 2003. The temporary drilling stoppage, after the BP oil disaster, is over and 12 deepwater drilling permits have been issued since March, along with 51 shallow-water permits since last October, nearly matching the average from before the spill. In addition, the Interior Department is moving forward with 3 lease sales in the Gulf, which will take place later this year and early next year.
- Drilling only is not the answer to gas prices. “According to a 2009 study from the government's Energy Information Administration, opening up waters that are currently closed to drilling off the East Coast, West Coast and the west coast of Florida would yield an extra 500,000 barrels a day by 2030…. gas prices might drop a whopping 3 cents a gallon, the study said.” [CNN, 4/25/11] And that is years away.
- We must invest in American clean energy like solar and wind, as well as electric vehicles and efficient cars. But to help Big Oil, Republican have voted time after time against clean energy investments to power our future, bring about long term energy independence, and create good jobs here at home, while bringing down gas prices for good.
- The Obama Administration opposes the bill noting that it “would undermine the Administration's work to ensure that environmental analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is conducted in a rigorous manner…. The Administration has strengthened NEPA analysis in light of lessons learned from the spill. DOI intends to hold all three Gulf of Mexico lease sales referenced in the bill by mid-2012.”
- The bill is opposed by Environment America, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, Alaska Wilderness League, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Clean Ocean Action, Conservation Law Foundation, Earth Justice, Greenpeace, Oceana, Ocean Conservation Research, Pacific Environment, Public Citizen, Southern Environmental Law Center, and Surfrider Foundation.