During a Natural Resources Committee markup today, an amendment to prevent offshore drilling near the Chesapeake Bay was defeated in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.
It’s been almost a year since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico. The event crippled the deepwater Macondo well, and resulted in the worst offshore oil spill in American history.
Apparently, politicians are more concerned with appeasing irritated oil companies than ensuring that such a costly disaster never occurs again.
The amendment offered by Congressman John Sarbanes would have eliminated a section of H.R. 1230, the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, which would require lease sales for oil and natural gas drilling off the cost of the Delmarva Peninsula. The amendment failed by a vote of 28 to 14.
“As the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico vividly demonstrated, offshore drilling operations can never eliminate the risk of a major disaster,” said Sarbanes. “The untold damage being done to marine ecosystems, fishing and tourism industries, and the Gulf economy would wreak havoc on our region if a similar disaster occurred near the Chesapeake Bay.”
In addition to concerns related to the Chesapeake Bay, the area infringes on critical training areas for the U.S. Navy. The Department of Defense concluded that more than 78% of the Lease 220 area would occur in areas where military operations would be impeded by drilling structures and related activities.
In the remaining 22% of the lease area, major commercial shipping channels for Norfolk and the Chesapeake Bay would conflict with drilling operations. If those restrictions are accounted for, then the amount of recoverable resources for this parcel drops to 13 million barrels of oil and 100 billion cubic feet of natural gas, not even enough to meet the U.S.’s energy needs for one day.
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