Senator David Vitter (LA) has introduced legislation to dramatically expand offshore drilling in the U.S. The Energy Production and Project Delivery Act would double the amount of offshore oil and gas leases allowed under the Obama Administration’s current Five Year OCS Leasing Plan. This would effectively open up drilling along all U.S. coastlines and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The measure would also streamline federal permitting, prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating CO2 under the Clean Air Act, and expand revenue sharing for coastal states from offshore energy activities. The bill currently has 22 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
UPDATE (3/8) The Senate today voted to reject the Vitter amendment! Thanks to all of you who reached out to your Senators!
Senator David Vitter (R-LA) is pushing an amendment (#1535) to the Transportation Bill that would vastly expand offshore oil & gas development in U.S. waters. The amendment would put into place the 2010-2015 drilling plan proposed by President George W. Bush in 2008, while removing requirements for environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In effect, the amendment would extend drilling off the Virginia, California and Florida coasts as well as Bristol Bay and Cook Outlet in Alaska. As the number of proposed amendments to the Transportation Bill swells into the hundreds, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to eliminate the focus on issues not germane to transportation and bring the bill to the floor for a vote. The Surfrider Foundation has joined other environmental and ocean recreation groups in urging the Senate to reject the Vitter amendment. Now is an excellent time to contact your Senators to tell them you support protecting our coasts from offshore drilling!
Today, the Senate voted down an irresponsible oil drilling and spilling bill sponsored by Senator McConnell (S. 953) on a 57-42 vote in opposition. This bill would have forced offshore oil leasing off the coast of Virginia, fast tracked permitted process while limiting environmental review and undermined legal oversight.
The Surfrider Foundation applauds the Senate for opposing a bill that would accomplish nothing but put our coastlines at risk. It has become abundantly clear that new domestic offshore drilling will not reduce price at the pump, reduce our dependency on foreign oil or address our energy crisis.
“Today that Senate took an important step towards solving our energy crisis by voting against Senator McConnell’s oil drilling and spilling bill,” says Chad Nelsen, Surfrider’s Environmental Director. “It’s time for Congress to catch up with the public in understanding that new offshore drilling is not the answer to our energy needs. Instead they should permanently protect our coastlines and start seeking real solutions to our energy crisis including increased efficiency, conservation and renewable alternatives.”
For example, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed into law by President Bush is predicted to save about 26 billion barrels of oil by 2030. That is greater than the total U.S. prove oil reserves, which stand at 23 billion barrels. Read more here.