Just a little bit over a year ago, the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling platform experienced a blowout, resulting in an explosion that killed many workers and created the largest ever environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Uncounted amounts of crude oil spewed into Gulf waters, devastating the regional economy.
Yesterday, after much delay, the U.S. House of Representatives finally voted on a response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. No, the House did not approve regulations needed to keep offshore drilling more safe and clean. Instead, 263 U.S. Representatives voted to encourage more disasters like the Deepwater Horizon calamity.
These members of Congress voted in favor of H.R. 1229, which requires that the Secretary of the Interior allow quick and sloppy expansion of offshore drilling. If the legislation is signed into law, the Secretary of the Interior would be forced to make decisions on the approval of large numbers of permits for offshore oil drilling, even if the Department of the Interior lacks sufficient staff and money to process those permits. Under H.R. 1229, the so-called Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act, all permits would be deemed approved if the under-funded Department of the Interior permit review team could not complete a review in the new, shortened amount of time.
Under this approach, the most dangerous offshore drilling plans, without any safety protections or environmental safeguards, could be approved through an oil industry strategy of flooding the Department of Interior with frivolous permit requests. The Republican-led House of Representatives voted in opposition to an amendment to H.R. 1229 that would have required adequate funding and personnel for drilling permit review agencies.
What’s more, H.R. 1229:
– Allows the offshore drilling permit review to take place without consideration of safety, environmental and fisheries laws.
– Does not include new minimum standards for blow-out preventers, cementing and well design.
– Enables permits for drilling to be approved without certification that the drilling company has enough resources to deal with a oil drilling disaster, and allows drilling companies to move forward without any calculation of the potential risk for disaster associated with the proposed drilling.
– Allows the offshore drilling permit review to be conducted solely through consultants affiliated with oil industry trade organizations.
Not one single Republican voted against rushed and sloppy offshore drilling.
28 House Democrats voted in favor of this bill, encouraging a new rush of quick and sloppy offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere along America’s coasts: