House Gets Amnesia, Passes Bill to Rush Oil Drilling

The House of Representatives today passed a bill that sets ridiculous and dangerous deadlines for the approval of oil drilling permits. According to Earthjustice, “Sponsored by Doc Hastings (R-WA), H.R. 1229 requires the Department of Interior to decide whether to approve a drilling permit within 30 days after receiving an application and allows only two 15-day extensions of this deadline.”

The bill is titled the “Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act,” which would be hilarious if it weren’t so despicable. It’s as though the 235 Republicans and 28 Democrats who voted for the bill have completely forgotten what put thousands in the region out of work in the first place

It’s been just over a year since BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 men and spawning the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. It also caused incredible economic consequences, costing and continuing to cost the region billions.

The bill is the second of three bills House leadership is pushing to create a “Drill, Baby, Drill” society. The final bill, H.R. 1231, is expected to be voted on tomorrow, and it is likely the worst of the bunch. According to Scott Slesinger at NRDC, “From the pristine Arctic Ocean, to California’s sparkling beaches, to the entire eastern seaboard, leasing for offshore drilling would commence in 2012, and would continue in perpetuity, as the bill requires 50% of unleased acreage in our oceans to be available for leasing every five years.”

America isn’t likely to stop drilling for oil any time soon. But how can Congress be so cavalier when the wounds of oil industry deregulation are still so fresh? We saw what happens when deliberation is sacrificed in the name of expediency; when safety is sacrificed in the name of profits; and when regulators feel more beholden to industry lobbyists than they do to the American public. The basic safeguards the House is attempting to strip away may not prevent another oil spill, but refusing to learn the lessons of the past is sure to cause one.

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