Congress Considers Industry Giveaways for Offshore Drilling
New Bill Proposes Sidestepping Public Input and Reversing Ocean Protections
Press Release Date: October 11, 2017
WASHINGTON – Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a hearing on new legislation to amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), which would provide industry giveaways for offshore drilling. If passed, the Accessing Strategic Resources Offshore Act (ASTRO Act) would help expedite the oil and gas industry’s efforts to expand dirty and dangerous offshore drilling to new areas in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Specifically, the legislation seeks to:
- Eliminate the long-standing Presidential authority under the Antiquities Act to establish marine national monuments;
- Authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct and expedite lease sales outside of the OCSLA leasing program context and without consideration of the environmental, social and fiscal safeguards in that law;
- Eliminate the long-standing Presidential authority under OCSLA Section 12(a) to withdraw certain areas of the OCS from oil and gas leasing, except for those areas within national marine sanctuaries, and revoke all prior existing withdrawals that are not in existing sanctuaries or monuments;
- Revoke common-sense Arctic exploratory drilling safety protections; and
- Require preparation of a report within 180 days that could lead to a rollback of the post-Deepwater Horizon re-organization of the Department of Interior, which was put in place to eliminate mission conflicts and to increase safety and environmental protections for oil and gas leasing and permitting requirements.
In response to the hearing, Oceana released the following statement from campaign director, Diane Hoskins:
“This bill is an aggressive attack on our oceans. It’s the industry’s wish list, with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. To call this bill extreme is an understatement. This is a clear attempt by a few in Congress to provide massive giveaways to special interests in the oil and gas industry. With an oil surplus and gasoline prices near recent historic lows, it makes absolutely no sense to put our coastal communities and state economies at risk from more drilling.
If this bill were enacted, almost any area off our coasts could be eligible for offshore drilling. Worse, these public resources could be exploited without regard to public input.
Offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous business, as our country saw after the Deepwater Horizon spill. More drilling means more spills. It’s time for Washington to listen to those that have the most to lose from expanding offshore drilling versus advancing proposals that attempt to side step and silence the public.”
As of today, opposition and concern over offshore drilling activities includes:
- Bipartisan opposition from Governors of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Oregon and California
- More than 130 East Coast and Pacific Coast municipalities
- Bipartisan opposition from nearly 1,200 local, state and federal elected officials
- An alliance representing over 41,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families from Florida to Maine
- The New England, Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic fishery management councils
- Commercial and recreational fishing interests such as the Southeastern Fisheries Association, Fisheries Survival Fund, Southern Shrimp Alliance, The Billfish Foundation and the International Game Fish Association
- NASA, DOD and the Florida Defense Support Task Force
To learn more about Oceana’s campaign to stop the expansion of offshore drilling activities, please click here.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With nearly 200 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. To learn more about Oceana’s work in the United States, please visit www.usa.oceana.org