This was a vote on final passage of legislation requiring the Secretary of the Interior to conduct oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off Virginia’s coast that had been cancelled or delayed by the Obama administration.
Following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the Obama administration imposed an offshore drilling moratorium. The administration lifted that moratorium, however, in May 2010. Despite lifting the moratorium, however, Republicans argued that the administration had been too slow in approving leases for drilling, and contributed to high gasoline prices. The Obama administration (and many congressional Democrats) countered that it was seeking to improve drilling safety in order to prevent another oil spill disaster.
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) urged support for the bill: “…The national average price of gasoline has gone up 10 cents in just the last week, and is now about 1 1/2 cents nationally from $4 a gallon. By comparison, the price was $1.84 a gallon when President Obama was sworn into office. In my home district in Central Washington last week, I heard from farmers, the foundation of our region's economy, who are finding it harder and harder to pay these high energy prices. And I have no doubt that my colleagues from other parts of the country have heard similar stories from their constituents. The pain being felt today has been exacerbated by the actions of this administration, this administration which, for the past 2 years, has repeatedly blocked, hindered, and raised the cost to access to our American energy resources.…Today we are debating H.R. 1230, the Restarting America Offshore Leasing Now Act. This bill requires the Secretary of the Interior to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Virginia that have been delayed or canceled by this administration.”
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) also supported the bill: “Most Americans understand the concept of supply and demand, and in fact a third of oil now comes from the gulf. The Department of Energy's information agency tells us that last year's production in the gulf was 20 percent less than projected in 2007, and in 2012 we are going to be getting a half a million barrels a day decline in production from 2010. What happens when the production goes down and the demand goes up? The price goes up--way up….This legislation, if we pass it today and get it enacted, helps turn the key to unlocking the door on domestic energy production. This legislation is not about new lease sales. It is simply catches up with the leases already approved.”
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) opposed the bill: “One year ago today, we were 2 weeks into the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We were 2 weeks into what would ultimately become the worst environmental disaster in our Nation's history, with more than 4 million barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf. And since that disaster, we have learned many things about the safety of offshore drilling….We learned that the oil companies had neither the resources nor the ability to stop a deepwater blowout. BP spill response included an attempt to shoot golf balls and bits of rubber into the well. When we were told that the industry was relying on the most sophisticated technologies, we assumed that they meant technologies developed by MIT and not the PGA….And yet here we are debating legislation that would do nothing to improve the safety of offshore drilling and could actually make drilling less safe. The legislation before us represents a return to the pre-spill mentality of speed over safety.”
Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) also opposed the bill: “I rise in strong opposition to this oil spill amnesia bill that threatens our coastal communities….The bill sidesteps safety and environmental reviews, acting as if the Nation's worst oil spill in history never happened. And, it pushes a failed energy plan that pours billions of dollars into already overstuffed oil industry coffers. The only thing it adds up to… is a false promise. The truth is the Republican majority is hoping to delude the public into believing that this rush to new offshore drilling will provide a quick fix to high gas prices, but the harsh reality is this: The U.S. is never going to have control over world oil supplies or gas prices through drilling. We simply don't have the oil reserves, no matter how much we drill. What we do have is the ability to control prices by lowering our consumption, and that's just what we're starting to do.”
The House passed this bill by a vote of 266-149. Voting “yea” were 233 Republicans and 33 Democrats. 147 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 2 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation requiring the Secretary of the Interior to conduct oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off Virginia’s coast that had been cancelled or delayed by the Obama administration.