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H.R. 1229 & H.R. 1231 - More Gifts To Big Oil, But No Relief for Taxpayers or Consumers

The American people have been telling the GOP they need relief at the gas pump, not the Republican budget plan that ends Medicare as we know it to give tax breaks and other subsidies to Big Oil.

On May 11th and 12th, the House passed two more 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.

  • H.R. 1229 passed by a vote of 263-163 on May 11th and makes offshore drilling less safe, rushing the very processes that the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling found led to the BP disaster.
  • H.R. 1231 passed by a vote of 243-179 on May 12th and mandates the most sweeping expansion of offshore drilling in our nation's history - making broad swaths of the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts open for leasing automatically.

These bills are a boon to Big Oil - which is already raking in nearly $36 billion in profits this year for its best year since 2008 -- that would make another catastrophic oil spill more likely.

Instead, Congress should be ending taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil, as called for by President Obama and Democrats.  Even, Speaker Boehner said that oil companies should pay their fair share.

Key facts about H.R. 1229:

  • H.R. 1229 makes offshore drilling less safe, by limiting the time to review drilling permits, even after the largest offshore oil spill in the history of the United States.
  • H.R. 1229 would require the Secretary of the Interior to act on a drilling permit request within 30 days, allowing the Department to extend the time period for 15 days twice with extensive documentation of the rationale.  Under the bill, if the Secretary has not made a decision within 60 days, the drilling permit would be “deemed approved,” whether or not the safety or environmental review had been completed.
  • These permit applications are for complicated and dangerous activities, and imposing such a rushed and arbitrary deadline would strain oversight capacity and prevent the agency from conducting a safe and adequate review.  The National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling found that lack of adequate government oversight was a leading cause of the BP Gulf oil disaster.
  • In addition, H.R. 1229 could result in more drilling permits being rejected as the Interior Department may be forced to rejected permits, rather than allow them to be “deemed approved” if the safety and environmental review has not been completed.

Key facts about H.R. 1231:

  • H.R. 1231 mandates that the Secretary offering up half of the unleased areas off the Atlantic and Pacific Coast and offshore Alaska for drilling.  It also dictates that the 5-year drilling plan include production goals that would increase the amount of oil produced per day by at least 3 million barrels and natural gas produced per day by 10 billion cubic feet by 2027.
  • This will ensure that drilling occurs off the beaches of the entire East Coast down to North Carolina, the California Coast, and in the Arctic Ocean and Alaska's Bristol Bay - no matter if a state objects to drilling off its beaches.
  • American oil production is already at its highest level since 2003, and is projected to grow.  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, roughly the average from before the spill.   

    US Domestic Oil Production at Highest Level In 7 years

  • 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 decades away … in 2030.
  • 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.

These bills are opposed by the League of Conservation Voters, National Resources Defense Council, 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.