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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 6:02 am | Fair 42º


Capps Continues Fight to Protect California Coastline from Expanded Oil Drilling

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Thursday led yet another fight against an effort to expand offshore drilling in several sensitive areas nationwide, including the coasts of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The bill, House Resolution 2, passed on a largely partisan vote, 226-191.

Capps offered four amendments to the bill to protect public health and coastal economies, but all amendments were blocked from consideration, including debate or a vote, on the House floor.

The amendments would have:

» Deleted the portion of the bill that targeted the Central Coast of California for additional drilling

» Strengthened notification and transparency requirements for offshore fracking by requiring the Secretary of the Interior to notify all relevant state and local regulatory agencies and publish a notice in the Federal Register within 30 days after receiving any application for a permit

» Required the Secretary of the Interior, along with the EPA, to conduct a study of the environmental impacts of offshore oil and gas well stimulation activities, including offshore fracking, on the marine environment

» Closed a loophole that allows oil companies to transport bitumen and other material derived from tar sands or oil sands without paying into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, despite the fact that it is a spill risk. The amendment would have ensured that material transported through the Keystone XL pipeline be treated the same way as other oil in case of a spill under the rules of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

HR 2 is not new legislation. Instead, it is a repackaging of bills that have already been considered and passed on largely party lines by the House, and represents the fifth time in four years that the House has attempted to require new drilling leasing off the coasts of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. In addition, the bill includes numerous provisions promoting unsafe and irresponsible energy policies, including some to halt the U.S. progress in cutting carbon pollution and others to weaken the EPA’s powers to protect clean water and clean air.

“This bill is yet another attempted assault on the environment and economy of the Central Coast and coastlines across the country,” Capps said. “And despite the fact that Central Coast residents have repeatedly made their opposition clear, it includes a tired, repeated effort to open up Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties for new offshore drilling.

“Oil and gas production are already near historic highs. Rather than doubling down on harmful fossil fuel production, we should be investing in innovation and a clean energy future. Our constituents sent us here to get work done and pass legislation that will help the Middle Class, not waste time debating the same bills over and over again.”

Capps spoke on the House floor against H.R. 2 on Thursday afternoon. The text of her speech, as prepared, is below:

Mr. Speaker, here we go again.

HR 2 is yet another example of the Majority’s backward energy policy that doubles down on dirty fossil fuels instead of investing in a clean energy future, and I strongly oppose it.

While fossil fuels will undoubtedly be a significant part of our energy mix for years to come, they are only one piece of a very large energy puzzle.

So rather than doubling down on dead-end, short-sighted policies like these, we should be considering comprehensive energy legislation that looks at the big picture.

We should be investing in cutting edge research, high-tech innovation, and new clean energy technologies.

We should be increasing energy efficiency, modernizing the electric grid, and promoting sustainable energy.

And we should be taking action to reduce toxic greenhouse gas emissions and finally embrace the overwhelming science of climate change.

Not only does HR 2 do nothing to address the serious environmental problems we face, it also creates new ones.

HR 2 overrides the expressed will of voters in my district and many other communities throughout the nation by recklessly expanding offshore oil drilling.

We’ve seen time and time again the devastating environmental and economic threats posed by offshore oil drilling.

That’s why voters in my district and California have repeatedly rejected new offshore drilling.

Yet this bill ignores these wishes and explicitly requires new oil drilling off the Central Coast of California and in other areas.

I find it ironic that the same Majority that decries “an over-reaching Federal government” seems to have no qualms about forcing new drilling upon local populations against their expressed wishes.

I submitted several amendments to the Rules Committee to address this and other problems with the bill, but none of them were made in order.

In fact, the Majority has prohibited consideration of any and all amendments. No debate, no votes.

And, if these weren’t enough reasons to oppose HR 2, the bill is also completely unnecessary because the House has already passed every provision included in the bill.

HR 2 is nothing more than 13 previously passed bills stapled together with a new bill number on top.

Even worse, this is the third time this Congress, and the fifth time in four years that we’re voting on the exact same offshore drilling expansion legislation.

Stapling old bills together doesn’t make this a new idea.

One would think that after nearly four years in control of the House, this Majority would have come up with some new ideas by now, but sadly they haven’t; they’ve just found a bigger stapler.

HR 2 is simply a political gimmick and a waste of taxpayer time and money. This is no way to legislate.

Mr. Speaker, the American people expect better from us.

They expect us to find common ground and work together across party lines to solve our nation’s problems.

And there’s certainly no shortage of problems we could be working on right now strengthening our economy, raising the minimum wage, passing comprehensive immigration reform, making college more affordable, and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.

And that list does not even include the multitude of energy challenges that this bill completely ignores.

This is what the American people are calling for.

They’re calling on Congress to stop the political gimmicks.

They’re calling on us to help create middle class jobs and support working families.

And they’re calling on us to get to work and build a more prosperous and sustainable future for our nation.

HR 2 accomplishes none of these things.

This bill is simply harmful energy policy and an embarrassing waste of time.

I urge my colleagues to reject this bill and join me in working toward a cleaner, more sustainable energy future for the American people.

I yield back.

Chris Meagher is the press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.


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