Although April 20 marked the one year anniversary of the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf, it seems that the House has already forgotten the consequences of the worst environmental disaster in American history. On May 5, the House passed the so-called Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act (H.R. 1230) that would essentially undercut safety reforms created after the Gulf spill by allowing the continuation of previously canceled or delayed lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Virginia Coast. Members of Congress are well aware that this bill will do nothing to lower gas prices and will only benefit Big Oil, yet the legislation still passed by a margin of 266 to 149, as 33 Democrats crossed over to join with all but two Republicans in siding with their campaign contributors at the big oil companies.
Last week's bill is the first of three bills promoting dangerous offshore drilling that the House Republican leadership intends to pass to further their "oil above all" energy strategy. Republicans will bring two more pro-drilling bills to the House this week: H.R. 1229 which proposes a rushed processing of drilling permit approvals/denials for the Secretary of Interior of just thirty days (with automatic approval if no action has been taken within sixty days); and H.R. 1231 which irresponsibly proposes a radical expansion of offshore drilling off the beaches of the East coast down to North Carolina, the Southern California coast and Alaska's fishery-rich coastline. None of these bills do anything to lower gas prices but they all make drilling less safe by irresponsibly ignoring what caused last year's catastrophic Gulf oil spill, and they shamefully prioritize oil drilling over other economic uses of our oceans and beaches such as tourism and fishing.
Instead of passing reckless bills such as these, we need to break our dependence on oil by boosting the fuel efficiency of our cars, investing in efficient public transportation and promoting hybrid and all-electric cars that use little to no oil. However, Congress seems to only be interested in rewarding their contributors at the big oil companies, which are making outsized profits on the backs of Americans struggling with high gas prices while receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer handouts every year.