Effort to block drilling near Chesapeake Bay fails
A proposal moving through the House of Representatives that would speed up permitting for offshore oil drilling will not include an exemption for rigs near the Chesapeake Bay after an amendment offered by Rep. John Sarbanes to carve the area out of the legislation failed.
The amendment, which died on a 28-14 vote in the House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday, would have eliminated a provision permitting lease sales for oil and natural gas drilling off the coast of the Delmarva Peninsula.
“We ought not jeopardize the health of the Bay in pursuit of an extremist ‘drill everywhere’ agenda,” Sarbanes, a Democrat, said in a statement.
The legislation, which Republicans hope to bring to the floor later this year, would reverse the moratorium on new drilling leases President Barack Obama imposed in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Committee chairman Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican, said the effort is intended to address rising gas prices and reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
The legislation “allows drilling to resume in a safe manner and provides certainty to businesses by implementing firm timelines for the Interior Department to act on permits,” Hastings said in a statement. “This bill ensures that endless bureaucratic delays and non-answers will no longer be tolerated."