We're one week away from the first anniversary of the worst oil spill in the nation's history, and to commemorate it, House Republicans spent Wednesday marking up a trio of bills that would dramatically increase drilling in the US.
The bills, all from Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, would open new areas for drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans, as well as Alaska's Bristol Bay. They would also speed up the process of approving drilling permits; after 60 days permits will be considered approved regardless of whether an environmental review is complete.
Hastings' bills would force the Department of Interior to move forward with lease sales in the central Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia without further environmental review, even though last year's spill raised a number of questions about whether those reviews were anywhere near adequate. One of the bills would even create economic incentives for oil companies to use seismic technology to survey for oil reserves. Yes, that's right—the bill proposes using taxpayer dollars to cover half the cost of the surveys for the oil industry.
Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the ranking member of the committee, decried Hastings' bills as "full of gifts for the oil industry." "This legislative package reflects a pre-spill mentality of speed-over-safety," Markey said Wednesday.