Terry Jeffrey

If the interior secretary rules in favor of drilling, any American could then sue in federal court claiming his determination was incorrect. This suit, however, would be expedited to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which has special jurisdiction in such cases.

If Interior prevailed in court, drilling could go forward.

Now, here's scenario two, the one that would unfold if the bill passed by the House this week becomes law:

States would still control the OCS to 3 miles off shore, but all drilling would be permanently banned by federal statue from 3 miles out to 50 miles out.

The federal government would additionally be prohibited from selling oil drilling leases on the federal OCS from 50 miles out to 100 miles out unless the legislature and governor of the adjacent state enacted a law specifically allowing the federal government to sell federal leases on this federal territory.

Because the House-passed bill makes no provision for sharing the federal royalties from these leases with the states, the states would have no financial incentive to enact such legislation.

Further, even if a state did enact such a law, the House-passed bill empowers governors from neighboring states to object under the provision of the OCS Lands Act if any point on their state's coastline is within 100 miles of the proposed drilling.

This provision was put in the bill, Republicans believe, to give governors in Maryland and Delaware the ability to unilaterally veto oil drilling approved by the legislature of Virginia, and the governor of Florida the ability to unilaterally veto oil drilling approved by Georgia.

House Republicans point to Interior Department estimates that show 88 percent of the undiscovered oil on the OCS is within 50 miles of shore -- in the area put permanently off limits by the House Democrats' bill.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday called the bill the "result of reasonable compromise that will put us on a path toward energy independence by expanding domestic supply of oil drilled offshore."

But the bill was no compromise, and it is unlikely to expand domestic oil supplies from offshore drilling.

If House Democrats have their way, you will be quite happy to accept $20 from your boss as a reward for riding a bike to work.

Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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