(Sept. 13, 2019) The first stage of an offshore oil drilling ban cleared the House of Representatives Wednesday with a 238-189 vote.
Twelve Republican members of the House joined Democrats in passing House Resolution 1941, the Coastal and Marine Economies Act, which will protect the Pacific and Atlantic coasts from oil drilling. Rep. Andy Harris, (R-1), however, voted against it.
Bill sponsor Rep. Joe Cunningham, (D-S.C.), argued that “Opposition to offshore drilling is not a partisan issue,” but failed to muster Republican support beyond the dozen representatives, most of whom were from coastal states.
Nonetheless, Jacob Ross of Oceana said that the passage of the bill was a clear sign of local and state bi-partisan support against offshore drilling.
“This bill means that the people have spoken, and have sent a very clear message that they don’t want drilling off our coast,” he said.
Ross said local governments and communities across the state led the fight against offshore drilling.
He did express surprise at Harris’ vote against the bill.
“The people that I’ve worked with — from business owners, to residents and mayors — were shocked,” he said. “If you say you are opposed to seismic air gun blasting and offshore drilling, but then vote ‘no’ on a bill to ban its practice, a lot of people are confused.”
Harris said the bill would prevent Congress from accurately cataloging natural energy resources on federal land or federal ocean areas.
"HR 1941, unfortunately, went much, much further than previous efforts that imposed a temporary moratorium on drilling and exploration off the Atlantic Coast, which I support,” he said. “This bill permanently blocked not only drilling, but any non-drilling ocean exploration efforts in federal coastal areas throughout the continental United States, not just off the East Coast."
He went on to say that the location of natural energy resources was vital to national security, regardless of the federal government’s intentions of extracting it.
Despite the House action, the legislation has a long journey ahead, as it moves on to the Republican-majority Senate. In addition, President Trump has threatened to veto it.