This vote was on an amendment that would have required stricter safety requirements for offshore oil drilling.
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) offered the amendment to Republican legislation that would open vast new stretches of federally owned territory to energy exploration. Rep. Hanabusa argued that the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrated that stricter safety standards were needed for offshore drilling. She cited an independent report that concluded the spill was preventable but caused by corner-cutting and bad decision-making.
Rep. Hanabusa’s amendment would have required that oil companies drilling on federally owned offshore territory would need to accept inspections from third-party experts, establish procedures to minimize the risk of explosions, and take other precautions to avoid disaster.
“We have the opportunity of being the safest offshore oil industry in the world, and this amendment would help us get there. That's what we owe the people,” Rep. Hanabusa said. “We owe those people who suffered through this, and we owe the rest of this nation a sense of being secure and knowing that when we are drilling that we are drilling safely, and we will not see those fatalities again.”
Republicans argued that oversight of safety on the oil rigs should be left to federal agencies. They said the oil industry had also taken steps to avoid another spill. They accused Democrats of raising the safety issue to divert attention from the issue of energy prices and energy independence.
“We have the regulations. We have to have American energy and the ensuing jobs that that has created, and I'm afraid that adopting this amendment would hinder that,” Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) said.
Rep. Hanabusa’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 189-228. Voting “yea” were 177 Democrats and 12 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 220 Republicans and 8 Democrats. As a result, the House defeated the attempt to establish stricter safety requirements for offshore oil drilling.