Several days ago the House approved a bill that will force safer regulations on offshore drilling. In addition, this bill will also enforce new fees on oil and gas production and remove a federal cap on economic liability for oil spills. This bill is in response to the disastrous Gulf oil spill that happened back in April.
Naturally there was disagreement over this bill between Republicans and Democrats. What this Bill will do is ban companies with serious environmental or workplace violations in the past seven years from being granted new permits for offshore drilling. The issue found by many Republicans and even some Democrats with high interest in oil fear that these regulations will hurt the U.S. economy. They believe it will take away countless U.S. jobs and raise energy prices.
This issue has not yet reached the Senate. According to a New York Times article the bill would:
- remove the $75 million cap on economic damages to be paid after big oil spills,
- increase the financial responsibility demonstrated by offshore operators to 300 million dollars,
- and finally create “conservation” fees on oil and natural gas that has been extracted from federally owned land or water
This was particularly disturbing to Rep. Doc Hastings, the ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee. He believes that the removal of the liability cap could be extremely detrimental to small and medium-sized drillers.
With this said I actually think this bill is a great step in the right direction. With the number of oil spills occurring offshore lately there had to be steps taken to try and ensure that such spills cease to happen. The environment is so destroyed each time there is a spill, not to mention we lose more and more of our oil. Big companies should be held responsible for their actions in these spills. And while I don’t want to see smaller drilling companies hit, we really need to have the safety of our environment and the preservation of our resources as a number one concern.