The U.S. House of Representatives is hoping for an explosive Fourth of July.
This week they are pushing two pro-drilling bills with exciting titles that would fit in nicely at The Onion or in a Trey Parker and Matt Stone production. Both of the bills seek to take advantage of the situations in Ukraine and Iraq by promising global harmony and cheaper pump prices through “Drill Baby Drill!” tactics.
The first bill, H.R. 4899 or, the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act, is designed to open new terrestrial and undersea lands to drilling with less regulatory oversight.
The bill is a rehash of provisions Republicans have tried to pass before, including: requiring the Secretary of the Interior to lease new drilling areas offshore of Virginia, South Carolina, and California; creating a perverse incentive for increased offshore drilling by giving nearby states 37.5% of offshore revenues; and undermining the National Ocean Policy by forbidding the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) from participating in regional ocean planning efforts that improve ocean management and increase stakeholder engagement.
The second bill, H.R. 6 or, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, seeks to expedite liquefied natural gas (LNG) export applications under the guise of creating more wealth in the U.S while helping out Ukraine with its Russia gas supply problem.
Instead of accomplishing this lofty and unobtainable goal (any proposed LNG export facilities won’t be operational until at least 2017 and seem unable to ensure global freedom), H.R. 6 would simply put more money into the pockets of oil and gas companies while increasing risks to America’s communities and environment.
Currently, the Department of Energy (DOE) reviews proposed LNG export terminals for impacts to people, health, safety, the economy, and the environment. H.R 6 would short circuit this process by automatically approving all the export applications currently filed with the DOE and exempts from future review all applications to export LNG to World Trade Organization members such as Japan and Ukraine.
Expanding LNG exports will lead to increased fracking, a dangerous and polluting process to extract oil and gas. In addition, this bill could have a detrimental effect on both American consumers and American industries that rely on natural gas since gas prices are expected to go up domestically with increased American LNG exports.
Both of these bills are clear giveaways to the fossil fuel industry, at the expense of State governments, coastal communities, and businesses that rely on clean and healthy ocean ecosystems for commercial and recreational fishing, tourism, surfing, and other recreational pursuits. Surfrider, in conjunction with Earthjustice, has sent a letter to congressional members opposing both bills.