Yesterday, I reported on some of the votes the House was taking on the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act. Of course, the word "jobs" is in the title to make the bill look good and to show that the House Republicans care about something other than legislating women's reproductive processes. The bill requires the President to develop a new five-year plan allowing offshore oil-and-gas leases off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
To get a better perspective on the potential dangers of this bill, take a look at the testimony given by Michael Conathan, the Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress.
The fact is, accelerating offshore oil and gas production in an attempt to create more jobs might be a fine idea if nothing else took place in our exclusive economic zone. But the ocean is a busy place, and prioritizing one industry will surely come at the expense of others.The final bill passed the House 235 to 186. 219 Republicans and 16 Democrats voted for the bill. 180 Democrats and 6 Republicans voted against it.
So the first thing I would ask this committee to consider is a revision of perspective. Instead of asking how to create more oil and gas jobs, take a step back and ask how to create more good jobs in industries that rely on the ocean. The options are suddenly far stronger.
Here is the reality of today:
Offshore oil and gas production is already a growth industry. According to The Wall Street Journal, “today … offshore drilling is booming in the Gulf of Mexico.” Every year of the Obama administration, there has been more oil produced on the outer continental shelf than the last year of the previous administration, and every year but 2012 saw more production than any year of George W. Bush’s presidency.
In 2010 the Gulf of Mexico experienced the worst accidental offshore oil spill in the history of the world. Since then, Congress has passed exactly zero laws to strengthen oversight of offshore oil production or increase pathetically low liability limits of $75 million.
Despite this massive quantity of production, this legislation would stomp on the gas pedal, accelerating production even further and forcing the opening of new areas in the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Gulf Coast, including areas where local residents resoundingly oppose having their coastlines threatened by oil production.
In many of these regions, the current economy depends on clean, healthy oceans. The increase in industrial activity and the risk of blowouts, spills, and pollution that comes with offshore drilling would threaten oceans.
Instead of creating offshore energy jobs by doubling down on dirty energy policies of the 20th century, we should be investing in the future: renewable energy. Shallow water offshore wind is ready for prime time in U.S. waters, and other offshore renewable technologies are right behind.
Which 6 Republicans broke party lines to protect the environment rather than Big Oil? A bunch of New Jersey Republicans plus (oddly) Mark Sanford. Unsurprisingly, they are mostly from coastal districts.
Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11)
Leonard Lance (NJ-07)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02)
Jon Runyan (NJ-03)
Mark Sanford (SC-01)
Chris Smith (NJ-04)
Which 16 Democrats gave Big Oil a great big hug? Let us name them and shame them.
John Barrow (GA-12)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Pete Gallego (TX-23)
Al Green (TX-09)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Jim Matheson (UT-02)
Mike McIntyre (NC-07)
Bill Owens (NY-21)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Nick Rahall (WV-03)
Cedric Richmond (LA-02)
Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
Filemon Vela (TX-34)
Let's also take a look at two amendments that unfortunately failed.
Lois Capps (CA-24)'s amendment would have blocked oil-and-gas lease sales in southern California. It failed 176 to 241. All Republicans voted against it, and 17 Democrats joined them. Sean Maloney (NY-18) and Mike Michaud (ME-02) voted against the amendment but for the final bill. Nick Rahall (WV-03), who voted for the final bill, voted for Capps's amendment as well.
Peter DeFazio (OR-04)'s amendment would have prohibited offshore oil-and-gas leases in Bristol Bay off the coast of Alaska. It was rejected 183 to 235. 180 Democrats and 3 Republicans voted in favor, 220 Republicans and 15 Democrats voted in opposition.
The 3 Republicans who voted in favor of the bill were Michele Bachmann (MN-06) [?????], Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), and Dave Reichert (WA-08).
Jim Cooper, Al Green, Nick Rahall, and Bennie Thompson, who all voted for final passage, voted for this amendment as well. Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15), Dan Lipinski (IL-03), and Sean Maloney (NY-18), who all voted against final passage, voted against this amendment as well.