Democrats caved came to a new proposal on Wednesday which would allow offshore drilling 50 miles from the coast if the state approves: federal waters within 50 miles of shore would continue to be protected. Waters off Florida’s Gulf coast also would remain protected at least until 2022 under the plan.
The proposal is expected to come up for a vote next week. Along with allowing offshore drilling, it is also expected to roll back tax breaks on the largest of oil companies, where those royalties will be used to spur renewable energy programs and conservation. But the proposal, announced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, would essentially end the long-standing federal ban on oil and gas drilling that has barred oil companies from more than 80 percent of Outer Continental Shelf waters from New England to Washington state.
“Our energy legislation will bring down gas prices, protect taxpayers, invest in clean renewable energy and provide an American-owned energy policy that the Bush-McCain Republicans have failed to deliver for the past eight years,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
Congressional Republicans have been demanding a vote allowing access to the offshore resources, and the topic has also become a core issue of GOP presidential nominee John McCain. But Republicans have strongly opposed new taxes on the oil companies as well as another of the Democrats’ crazy demands: that utilities nationwide be required to use at least 15-percent renewable energy, such as wind and solar.
Both provisions are key to the Democrats’ plan.
House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the Democrats’ drilling proposal would still leave vast areas of federal coastal waters — believed to have 18 billion barrels of oil and large natural gas resources — off-limits. Might I add, gooood!
“They’re trying to pull a hoax on the American people,” Boehner told reporters Wednesday. He said the Democrats’ plan didn’t appear to include any sharing of royalties with states and with no financial incentives states would likely not participate, resulting “in little or no new American energy production.”
The Senate, meanwhile, is expected next week to take up several drilling proposals including one that would open waters off the Atlantic from Virginia to Georgia and the eastern Gulf off Florida to drilling but keep the bans in place elsewhere. That plan also would allow for a 50-mile coastal buffer.