In Washington DC, the Republican controlled House has passed a bill aimed at fast-tracking offshore oil and gas drilling, a year after the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The legislation is designed to speed-up lease sales for offshore drilling. It is the first of three pieces of legislation relating to oil and gas drilling being pushed by Republicans, although 33 Democrats were included in the 266-149 majority vote.
Lease sales are the first step in a process that can lead to more drilling. Three lease sales are slated for the Gulf of Mexico, and one off the coast of Virginia.
The Obama administration had previously put a hold on lease sales after the massive Gulf oil spill, saying environmental reviews were needed before further drilling could be considered. The federal investigation into the Gulf oil spill has not yet been released.
The other two pieces of legislation, to be voted on next week, would fast-track drilling permit decisions and give the government authority to sell offshore leases where the biggest oil fields are located.
The While House has said it would oppose two of the three measures in the Senate, saying they would open areas to drilling based on environmental studies that are outdated, and put unnecessary restrictions on the government’s ability to make sure that new safety standards are met.
Is this push for new legislation to fast-track new offshore drilling a surprise to you after the Gulf oil spill, or do you think it’s inevitable?
Deepwater Horizon Offshore Drilling Platform on Fire: Image CC licensed by ideum