Yesterday, Senator Robert Menendez joined with Ben Cardin, Barbara Mikulski and Frank Lautenberg to introduce S. 926, legislation that would prohibit offshore drilling along certain areas of America’s coastline.
At first, you might think that environmentalists could be happy with this legislation. But then, you might notice that the legislation exempts most of America’s outer continental shelf from protection. Only the mid-Atlantic and North Atlantic regions would be protected.
S. 926 is one in a long line of bills offering regional protection from offshore drilling. Some seek to protect just California, or only Florida. S. 926 is only new in its targeted region of protection.
None of these bills move forward even to a full Senate vote, much less to passage. The senators who write these bills know that. These bills are designed to fail. By focusing on regional protection only, they cannot gain support from a nationwide coalition of senators sufficient for advancement through committee and passage.
Bills like S. 926 enable senators to claim that they are taking action to protect America’s shores from another disaster like the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, without having to accomplish anything. They’re little pieces of show legislation that no one intends to follow through with to completion. They’re an insult to environmentalists who are seeking serious measures to address the dangers of offshore drilling for all Americans. Offshore drilling is a national problem, and it merits a national response.