The bill passed 235-186, largely along party lines.
“Once again the leadership of the House has insisted on unnecessarily pursuing oil drilling where residents have made clear they don’t want it – along the California coastline,” said Capps. “Our coast is too important to our local economy and our quality of life to risk expanded drilling. That is why the state of California has not allowed new oil and gas leasing in state waters since 1994 and the House Majority should not overrule these decisions.”
Similar legislation has been considered on the House floor every year since 2011, but has never advanced in the Senate.
Capps, along with her colleagues Julia Brownley (D-Ventura) and Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), offered an amendment which would have struck the section of the legislation that mandates the new drilling off the Central Coast. This amendment was voted down by a mostly partisan vote of 176-241. Capps, a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, spoke on the House floor in support of her amendment. The text of her remarks is below:
Mr. Chairman, this is a straightforward amendment that is overwhelmingly supported by my constituents, and I hope we can all agree to it.
The amendment strikes a harmful and unnecessary provision in the bill that mandates new drilling in the sensitive waters off Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in my district.
Whatever the reasons behind this provision, the fact remains the people most affected – my constituents – don’t want new drilling.
My colleagues have heard me invoke Santa Barbara’s devastating 1969 oil spill before. That’s because it galvanized Central Coast residents, and virtually the whole state, against more offshore drilling. We were outraged by the damage to the environment and wildlife. And we understood the havoc that similar blowouts would wreak on our economy—especially our tourism and fishing industries.
That’s why California permanently banned new oil and gas leasing in state waters in 1994.
It’s why some 24 city and county governments, including both Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, have passed measures banning or requiring voter approval before any new onshore facilities to support offshore drilling can be built.
And it’s why in 2008, then-Republican Governor Schwarzenegger told President Bush and Congress to oppose new drilling off the West Coast.
Even the Pentagon has expressed concerns with new drilling in the area.
Mr. Chairman, Californians have spoken loud and clear: we do not want more drilling off our shores.
This amendment simply ensures the expressed will of my constituents and the people of California is respected.
I find it ironic that some of the same people in this body who decry “an overarching Federal government” seem to have no qualms about forcing new drilling upon a local population directly against its wishes.
The American people are tired of these political games, especially those that put our coasts, our communities and our way of life at risk.
Instead of expanding oil and gas drilling, we should be working together on a responsible, sustainable energy policy for the future.
We can’t end our dependence on oil overnight, but we can certainly do more to encourage innovation in clean energy technologies like solar, wind, and biofuels.
We can enact better efficiency standards to make the resources we do have last longer.
And we can end the billions of dollars in giveaways for big oil and finally level the playing field for all types of energy technology.
A clean energy future is good for jobs, it’s good for our environment, and it’s good for the American people.
This bill is just another recycled bad idea that is destined to go nowhere.
Doubling down on oil drilling may be good policy for oil companies, but it’s terrible policy for the American people.
Our amendment would help stop these games and stop the reckless expansion of oil drilling off the Southern California coast.
I urge my colleagues to respect the will of California’s voters and support the Capps-Brownley-Lowenthal amendment.