US House votes to boost oil, gas drilling

Sun sets behind two under construction
offshore oil platform rigs in Port Fourchon
© AFP/File Saul Loeb


WASHINGTON (AFP) – Amid a political war over painfully high gasoline prices, US President Barack Obama’s Republican foes on Thursday pushed a bill to boost offshore oil drilling through the House of Representatives.

One year after a massive oil spill caused by an explosion on an offshore drilling rig devastated the Gulf of Mexico, more than 30 Democrats joined Republicans to approve the legislation by a 266-149 margin.

Obama’s foes charged his energy policies doomed US voters to high gas prices that threaten the fragile US recovery, while Democrats accused Republicans of favoring profits for Big Oil over environmental concerns.

The measure, part of a package of Republican energy bills, is aimed at forcing the US government to sell three leases — essentially, granting the right to drill — in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the waters off Virginia.

The measure faced an uncertain future in the Democratic-held US Senate amid opposition from the White House, where Obama’s office of management and budget (OMB) issued a statement condemning the bill hours before the vote.

OMB said the Republican plan would “undercut” government efforts to improve well designs, boost workplace safety, increase corporate accountability, modernize “outdated” environmental rules, and require rig operators to show they can contain a spill like the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010.

But OMB also said that the US government planned to hold the three Gulf of Mexico lease sales by mid-2012.

The Republican bill would require them by four months after the law is enacted, eight months after, and the last one no later than June 1, 2012.

© AFPPublished at Activist Post with license

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