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Capps Continues Efforts to Protect California’s Coastline, Votes Against Misguided Legislation Mandating New Drilling off Central Coast
WASHINGTON – Today Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) voted against the so-called Congressional Replacement of the President Obama’s Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan Act (H.R. 6082), legislation to force new drilling off the West and East Coasts and in the important fishery of Bristol Bay off of Alaska while preventing proper environmental review. This legislation would also require expanded drilling from the 20 platforms presently developing oil and gas resources in the Santa Barbara Channel and from onshore locations, despite legitimate concerns raised by Central Coast residents and other stakeholders. The legislation passed by a vote of 253-170.
For the 11th time in 18 months the leadership of the House has brought to a vote legislation that unnecessarily opens up nearly every last piece of the public’s lands to drilling. And once again, the Central Coast is the target for this giant giveaway to Big Oil. Central Coast residents and small businesses have made their views clear for decades: they don’t want more drilling. They know our coastline is critically important to our local economy and to our quality of life to risk another spill. They also know its well-past time to put aside the bickering, and start working together to jumpstart the economy and boost job creation,” said Capps.
Capps also expressed frustration with the leadership of the House that would not allow her amendments to this bill to be debated.
My straightforward amendments to this bill could have made it better. We know there are real concerns with allowing new drilling from these decades-old platforms sitting in the Santa Barbara Channel, and that the U.S. Air Force does not support drilling near Vandenberg Air Force Base. That’s why I drafted these amendments, which addressed several real concerns with this bill in a very constructive way.”
The four Capps amendments would have stopped the mandated lease sales off the Central Coast; required the Interior Secretary to certify that drilling from existing Santa Barbara Channel platforms were capable of handling increased production given their age; barred drilling from occurring if it negatively affected the national security and space launch mission at military bases, like Vandenberg Air Force Base; and updated and increased civil penalties for polluters that violate the law.
Capps’ statement is included below. Video is available here.
Mr. Chairman, here we are, voting once again to mandate new offshore drilling in areas where it simply isn't wanted.
And just like before, this proposal simply ignores the facts.
The fact that we already make more than 75 percent of the offshore oil and gas resources available for drilling; the fact that domestic oil production is at an 18-year high; and the fact that we have more rigs that are drilling in the United States than in the rest of the world combined.
Instead of addressing the real issues in offshore drilling, like the need to adopt the safety recommendations of the nonpartisan oil spill commission, this bill seeks to compound the problems by mandating new drilling all over the place.
H.R. 6082 also cavalierly dismisses the legitimate concerns raised by the people most affected by this mandated new drilling idea—my constituents.
After nearly 100 years of drilling off my coastline, Californians have spoken loud and clear: we've had enough. In fact, a 2010 proposal to allow slant drilling from the shores of a coastal town in my district was opposed by 70 percent--that's right, 70 percent—of the voters.
To protect communities now at risk under this bill, I offered an amendment that would have stopped the mandated new lease sales off southern California—off my district—but the majority refused to allow a debate on this amendment.
In addition, this new mandated drilling would happen on platforms that have been in the Santa Barbara Channel since the Everly Brothers were topping the music charts over 50 years ago. It's not a good idea to use these old rigs for expanded drilling--20 of them--including platform A, as my colleague referenced, which was the very culprit of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.
I offered an amendment to require the Interior Department to certify these platforms were actually capable of handling new drilling before it could start; but thanks to the Rules Committee, we won't be debating that issue either.
It’s also true that the Pentagon doesn't support new drilling off its base on the Central Coast. The Pentagon told ExxonMobil that the company's proposed drilling plan at Vandenberg Air Force Base would ``present a wide range of significant operational constraints.''
That's why I offered an amendment to protect the national space launch mission at Vandenberg Air Force Base; but again, the House won't be able to debate that issue, and the concerns of the Air Force are left unaddressed.
Mr. Chairman, it's clear that H.R. 6082 is not a well-thought out proposal.
It's another heavy-handed, know-it-all approach from Washington, D.C.—rubber-stamping destructive drilling, cutting out environmental reviews, limiting public input.
That might be good policy for oil companies; but it's bad policy for my constituents, and it's bad energy policy for our Nation.
I urge my colleagues to oppose this reckless offshore drilling bill.