Center for Water Advocacy

advertiserpaintrockOil and Offshore

Nov 8, 2013 (7 years and 10 months ago)

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June 6, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of our millions of members and supporters, we are writing to express our strong opposition to the
“Offshore Energy and Jobs Act” (H.R. 2231).

This bill would replace the Obama Administration’s 2012
-
2017 plan for
offshore drilling with an extreme
leasing schedule that puts oil and gas development above all other uses of our oceans, including recreation,
tourism, and fisheries. The bill not only proposes new lease sales in Southern California, South Carolina,
Virgin
ia, but also mandates a doubling in drilling across the country by requiring the Secretary of the
Interior to lease at least 50% of unleased acreage with the greatest resources.

Not only would this bill dramatically expand offshore drilling, but it would
also do so without adequate
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review by
requiring the Secretary of the Interior to conduct
lease sales off the coasts of Virginia, South Carolina, and California, regardless of the projects’ potential
impacts. In the
wake of the BP disaster, both the National Oil Spill Commission and the Council on
Environmental Quality concluded that the pre
-
spill environmental review process for drilling impacts was
grossly inadequate. Yet, H.R. 2231 would ignore this lesson by exemp
ting agencies from NEPA’s common
sense mandate to “look before you leap.”

Furthermore, the proposal in Section 204 to remove what Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
regulations describe as the “heart” of the NEPA process


the consideration of all rea
sonable alternatives,
including the “no action” alternative


would have dire consequences. Again,
before making a decision
,
agencies must legitimately assess the relative merits of all reasonable alternatives


including those that are
called to its atten
tion by other agencies, organizations, communities, and members of the public. By
eliminating the non
-
leasing alternative and legislatively prescribing what types of alternatives the agency
may consider, the proposed legislation effectively shuts out all a
ffected stakeholders and makes the NEPA
process simply an exercise in paperwork on the way to a foregone conclusion.

Lastly, this bill would provide states with 37.5% of offshore revenues that can be used for any purpose,
creating
perverse incentives for i
ncreased environmentally damaging offshore drilling, even in areas that
are
extremely sensitive, or already under stress
from pollution, overfishing, ocean acidification and
warming.
What’s more, taking away a significant portion of one of the largest non
-
tax revenue streams for
the federal government and giving it to a handful of states without any oversight is an irresponsible fiscal
choice that worsens our federal deficit.

While this bill does include sections that address safety, it falls woefully short

of what is sufficient
following the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history. These new provisions do not come close
to addressing in full the recommendations made by the
National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon
Oil Spill and Offshore Dril
ling
.

For these reasons, we therefore respectfully request that you oppose the “Offshore Energy and Jobs Act.”

Sincerely,

Nikos Pastos

Environmental Sociologist

Center for Water Advocacy

ALASKA


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