House Passes Legislation to Ban Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

Bills Not Likely to Find Approval in Senate
By Juliet Kaszas-Hoch | Sep 25, 2019

Surf City — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed two bills that would ban new offshore oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. One measure would enact a lasting moratorium on oil and gas leasing in Atlantic and Pacific waters, while the other would permanently extend a current prohibition on leases in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Existing sanctions for the latter are otherwise set to expire on June 30, 2022.

New Jersey Congressman Andy Kim (D-3rd) praised the passage of the measures, noting, “Offshore drilling is a disaster waiting to happen, as we saw with the BP tragedy. In the event of a spill, toxic oil could kill thousands of marine species, destroy underwater ecosystems and demolish coastal environments. Even without an oil spill, seismic blast testing (the precursor of drilling) can disrupt fish migration and other marine ecosystems.

“Not to mention that a spill could affect the coastal economies that so many communities rely on,” he added, “especially those along the Jersey Shore in New Jersey’s 3rd District.”

The bills, though, are destined to fail in the Republican-controlled Senate. And a statement from the White House made it clear theTrump administration opposes both H.R. 1941, the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act, and H.R. 205, the Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act of 2019, as well as a third bill, H.R. 1146, the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act.

“These bills would undermine the Administration’s commitment to a prosperous American economy supported by the responsible use of the Nation’s abundant natural resources,” the statement reads. “Development of our resources enhances our energy security and energy dominance, and produces high-paying American jobs; provides increased revenue to the Treasury, States, tribes, and local communities; and is a critical source of conservation funding.”

The Democratic-led House hopes the passage of the bills at least underscores the importance of these environmental protections, and demonstrates staunch resistance to Trump’s plans to expand oil and gas drilling and to roll back offshore drilling safety regulations.

As U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said earlier this year, “An oil spill would not only be an environmental disaster for our beaches, fisheries and marine life, but the economic consequences would ripple across the region in the form of lost jobs and shuttered businesses.” —J.K.-H.

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