Despite Objections, House Deals Setback to Offshore Drilling

Posted: Dec 10, 2010 1:11 PM
Its effects probably won't be quite as deleterious as the White House's shameless (and unpopular) recent flip-flop on domestic energy production, but yesterday's House vote to hamper offshore drilling projects has drawn the ire of drilling state lawmakers:

The $1.1 trillion continuing resolution passed by the House Thursday night includes a provision that would increase by 60 days the time the Interior Department has to conduct environmental and safety reviews of proposed offshore-drilling projects.

But the move is facing resistance from drilling-state lawmakers, who argue the extension will further delay offshore permitting...

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), in a Dec. 7 letter to key members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, panned any effort to lengthen the review period. “[E]xtending the statutory period that BOEM has to review offshore oil and gas exploration plans is unnecessary,” the letter says.

The Hill's write-up concludes with this note:

The House continuing resolution also includes funding to double the number of offshore drilling inspectors.

In light of the economic and environmental devastation caused by the BP/Deep Water Horizon disaster, hiring additional inspectors to ensure the safety and structural integrity of offshore drilling rigs seems to be a pretty sensible move.  But if the government is doubling its oversight manpower, tripling the waiting period for the inflated inspection workforce to do its job seems a bit excessive, and, as Senators Landrieu and Murkowski wrote, "unnecessary."