This opinion piece was written for Earthjustice and is reprinted here with permission.
While the House GOP majority doggedly stood behind false claims of job creation and lowered prices at the gas pump to push through legislation (263-163) that would hasten the oil drilling permitting process, there are a few of our elected leaders who get it.
Representatives Edward Markey (D-MA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) called on their colleagues to take safety into account before approving H.R. 1229, and continually derided them for their Big Oil handouts. “Your policy is oil above all,” said a disgusted Markey, “everything else gets defunded.”
Markey and others against the legislation brought up Big Oil’s revenue in the most recent quarter – a staggering $33.3 billion. He also mentioned the $4 billion in tax breaks American consumers give to oil companies every year. “The Republicans think that’s not enough money,” he said.
Rep. Pallone referenced this New York Times editorial, refuting claims that offshore drilling can lead to energy independence. “No more oil is going to be brought to market because of this legislation,” he said.
Rep. Pallone then mentioned his state’s shoreline, and how it generates billions and billions of dollars in tourism. If there was a BP-type oil spill, that revenue would be destroyed. He wondered: what minimal jobs are going to be created through this legislation as compared to the risk to jobs that would be destroyed as a result of an oil spill disaster?
“You’re just inviting another BP-type spill, because nothing is being done by Republicans to prevent it,” Rep. Pallone said.
Rep. McGovern said his “colleagues on the other side of the aisle" are "apologists for Big Oil.”
And contrary to what the House GOP majority wants Americans to believe, the legislation does nothing for American families paying $4 a gallon at the pump, he said.
“It’s simply not possible for us to drill our way out of these problems."
H.R. 1229 is the second bill that gives handouts to Big Oil. Next up: H.R. 1231, which aims to increase oil production in sensitive areas including the Arctic Ocean and Bristol Bay in Alaska. We’ll keep you posted.