Offshore Drilling Legislation Passes in House Panel

April 15, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

Pennzenergy Company Oil Exploration Drilling Rig, Ship Shoal 150, In The Gulf Of Mexico. (Archival Photo By Getty Images)
Pennzenergy Company Oil Exploration Drilling Rig, Ship Shoal 150, In The Gulf Of Mexico. (Archival Photo By Getty Images)
Legislation that would speed the process of getting a permit for offshore drilling moved along in a Republican-controlled House panel this week, just a few days before the April 20 one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The House Natural Resources committee voted to continue considering the bill with a vote of 27 to 16. If it becomes law it will enable more drilling in the Gulf, the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Arctic Ocean, according the committee’s website.

The legislation would end the effective moratorium on offshore drilling and allow the Secretary of the Interior to decide on issuing a permit within 30 days after receiving a permit application. The official moratorium on deepwater offshore drilling has already been lifted, but permits are carefully scrutinized.

“It’s been nearly six months since the Obama Administration officially ended the moratorium on deepwater drilling, and yet thousands of people in the Gulf remain out of work,” said committee chair Doc Hastings, a Republican from Washington.

Rep. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, decried the proposed legislation.

“Here we are, one week removed from the first anniversary of the BP spill, and the Republican Majority is marking up a trio of bills that will take us back to the days of rubber stamps and systemic failures,” he said in a statement on his official website.

“This legislative package reflects a pre-spill mentality of speed-over-safety. It would open up huge swaths of our coasts to drilling, without first applying any new safety standards learned from the BP disaster,” he added.