Drilling Wars, Round 2: The Senate

Elisabeth Meinecke
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Posted: May 17, 2011 5:20 PM
The Republicans and the White House are at it again, this time over S. 953, the Senate Republicans' version of pro-drilling legislation, introduced after the House passed a trio of pro-drilling bills last week.

The administration opposes the GOP bill -- shocker! -- because it puts a time limit on the permitting process (where the administration can often delay a company from drilling even if the company has a lease) and, according to an Office of Management and Budget statement, would "undermine the Administration's work to ensure that environmental analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is conducted in a rigorous manner."

Another person disappointed with the bill is GOP Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, a state hit hard by Obama's drilling moratorium. Vitter thinks it does not go far enough, according to a report in The Hill: "I’m disappointed that the bill is so modest in terms of the increased access."

The bill specifics at least six lease sales before December 31, 2012. Vitter, according to The Hill report, pointed out the absence of lease sales in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Pacific.

The bill also addresses offshore drilling safety and establishes a public/private task force on oil spill response, while reporting to Congress and federal agencies, says a bill summary. Vitter is concerned with that as well, contesting that adds more red tape to the process.