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Hastings to Drillers: ‘Forget the Gulf Oil Spill; Full Speed Ahead’

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Natural Resources Committee will mark up three bills this morning introduced by Representative Doc Hastings (R, WA).  H.R.1229, H.R.1230, and H.R.1231 would require the Department of Interior to lease vast areas of the Outer Continental Shelf where there is no drilling today, speed up the permit approval process, and hand the oil industry more taxpayer subsidies --subsidies for performing seismic testing that the companies have to pay for themselves today.   

Mike Gravitz, Oceans Advocate of Environment America said the following: 

“In light of the BP oil disaster, Congress should permanently protect our sensitive coasts and valuable oceans from the kinds of environmental and economic devastation the BP spill brought to the Gulf of Mexico. After the spill, the Obama administration wisely protected the coasts of Virginia and other states along the Atlantic, and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.  

“These proposed pieces of legislation would undo those protections and expand offshore drilling to places that have not been drilled before – the Atlantic, eastern Gulf, and much of the Pacific – and speed up drilling in other places like the Arctic.  

“The bills double down on offshore drilling. In effect, they tell drillers and the drilling agency, ‘Forget the Gulf oil spill; Full speed ahead,’ when we know from extensive investigations, including the President’s Oil Spill Commission, that the oil industry lacks a culture of safety, that the nation’s offshore regulatory agency prioritized production over safety and environmental stewardship, and that the Coast Guard was woefully unprepared for the spill.

“These bills do nothing to reduce the price of gas at the pump while further enriching oil companies. They will flood the market for offshore leases, depressing their price, and require American taxpayers to help fund oil companies’ exploration for oil and natural gas, something the industry normally pays for. As ordinary Americans are being asked to tighten their belts, new subsidies that swell oil company profits are just plain wrong. 

“It’s time for Americans to transition off oil and move urgently to renewable sources of energy like wind and solar power. We need to increase gas mileage, improve building efficiency and expanding public transit. These are the policies that will get us off oil and remove the stranglehold that oil companies have on our country. Today’s markup contributes nothing to those goals and instead takes us backward, increasing our dependence on oil and gas.”