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Democratic Amendments In Order for the "Drill, Baby, Drill" Bills

May 9, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

As you may have noticed in my preview post this morning, the Republican leadership is doing something few House leaders ever do — opening up one of their bills to several floor amendments from the minority party and none from their own party. The Rules Committee last week decided that one of the Republicans’ oil drilling bills, the H.R.1229 (a.k.a. the “Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act”) would be debated under a structured rule that makes in order eleven Democratic amendments for votes and ten minutes of debate each.

Below is a rundown of the amendments that will be voted on — I’ll update with vote results when they are posted: 

Sponsor #/Link Purpose
Rep. Jared Polis [D, CO-2] H.Amdt.22 Would require safety review of permits to take into consideration all applicable safety, environmental and fisheries laws.
Rep. John Garamendi [D, CA-10] H.Amdt.14 Would implement the Commission’s recommendation by requiring that in reviewing a drilling permit, the Secretary consult with an independent drilling safety organization not affiliated with the oil industry trade association.
Rep. Edward Markey [D, MA-7] H.Amdt.2 Revised Would implement basic offshore drilling safety reforms recommended by the independent BP spill commission. The Commission found that the root causes of the BP spill were “systematic” and could have been prevented. The Markey amendment would set specific new minimum standards for blow-out preventers, cementing and well design.
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa [D, HI-1] H.Amdt.10 Would state that the Secretary shall not issue an offshore drilling permit without certifying that the applicant has calculated a worst-case discharge scenario for the proposed drilling operations; and has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Secretary that the applicant possesses the capability and technology to respond immediately and effectively to such worst-case discharge scenario.
Rep. Sheila Jackson- Lee [D, TX-18] H.Amdt.3 Would ensure a reasonable period for review of applications and eliminate the language that could result in the automatic approval of applications.
Rep. Rush Holt [D, NJ-12] H.Amdt.9 Would strike a provision in the underlying bill that would “deem” drilling permits approved after 60 days even if the necessary safety and environmental reviews have not be completed. Would leave in place a timeline for approving drilling permits, but prevents permits from being “deemed” approved before the safety review has been completed.
Rep. Jared Polis [D, CO-2] H.Amdt.23 Would lift timeline requirements if the agency lacks an adequate budget or lacks staff expertise to properly review permits.
Rep. Alcee Hastings [D, FL-23] H.Amdt.12 Would require a detailed description of the extent to which and by when any oil found on the leased property will decrease the price of crude oil and at the pump for hardworking Americans.
Rep. Ted Deutch [D, FL-19] H.Amdt.4 Would strike section 202 of H.R. 1229, so that states outside of the 5th Circuit can have their courts hear civil actions relating to energy projects in the Gulf of Mexico.


Rep. Jared Polis [D, CO-2] H.Amdt.21 Would amend bill to emphasize quality of court decisions instead of speed of court decisions.
Rep. Alcee Hastings [D, FL-23] H.Amdt.13 Would strike Section 207, the limitation on attorneys’ fees.

The rule for the bill also states that the text of the bill that the House passed last week to force the Obama Administration to conduct lease sales for oil drilling sites in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia will be added to the end of the text of H.R.1229 and makes two additional amendments in order. The bills had to be put together because the Congressional Budget Office has determined that H.R.1230 would violate the Republicans’ “Cut-Go” rule on its own. Cut-Go states that any bills that increase direct spending have to be offset by spending reductions in the same bill. H.R.1229 would increase spending by $6 million, but that is more than offset if you add last weeks’ bill, H.R.1230, to it.

Anyways, here are the amendments to that bill that the Rules Committee has made in order:

Sponsor #/Link Purpose
Rep. Rush Holt [D, NJ-12] H.Amdt.7 Would remove provisions in the bill that would “deem” the safety and environmental review done in 2007, prior to the BP spill, sufficient for new offshore oil and gas leasing. The amendment would allow lease sales to go forward, but require new environmental and safety reviews, following the BP spill.
Rep. Gerald Connolly [D, VA-11], Rep. James Moran [D, VA-8], Rep. John Sarban es [D, MD-3] H.Amdt.15 Would ensure that Lease Sale 220 does not interfere with Naval or other DOD operations.
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