Just hearing that phrase ought to cause you to shudder. If it doesn’t, I encourage you to go back and read some of our older articles covering the months-long massive rupture of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico – an oil spill that, despite what British Petroleum propaganda would have you believe, has devastated the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico.
You would think that, just four years after the worst environmental disaster in American history, the U.S. Congress would be working hard to prevent a repetition of the catastrophe. At the very least, a reasonable Congress would be working to diminish the role of filthy crude oil in the American economy.
Instead, the exact opposite is happening. Members of the U.S. Congress are voting to give fossil fuels companies special economic favors, and encouraging foreign oil companies like BP to drill even more in American waters. That’s the agenda of H.R. 4899, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives today.
U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer tried to reform H.R. 4899’s massive giveaways to Big Oil. He introduced an amendment that would end the federal government’s Foreign Oil Driller Welfare Program.
Since the days when Bill Clinton was President, about one out of every four companies conducting offshore drilling for oil within the publicly-owned waters of the USA is allowed to do so without paying any royalties to the federal government. They are put into a special welfare program that allows them to take natural resources that belong to the American people without paying the American people a dime for it.
Why does this program exist? Representative Blumenauer explains that, “The original intent behind this royalty relief was to encourage drilling in the Gulf of Mexico despite low oil prices. This is simply no longer relevant with oil prices currently at over $100 a barrel. Furthermore, a large number of these leases are held by state-owned or partially state-owned foreign firms.”
Not only are we taxpayers subsidizing the huge profits of offshore oil drilling companies that take America’s natural wealth without paying for it, we are doing so for companies that are direct agents of foreign powers.
Congressman Blumenauer’s amendment would have begun the work of closing down the Foreign Oil Driller Welfare Program. It would have forced oil drilling companies that take oil out of waters owned by the American people to either begin paying a royalty for that oil, or forfeit the right to expand their oil drilling operations to new areas in American territorial waters.
179 members of Congress voted for the bill, but it was rejected – by a margin of 50 votes. Most of the politicians who voted to protect the Foreign Oil Driller Welfare Program were Republicans. However, 5 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted for Blumenauer’s amendment. They were:
Unfortunately, these five votes were more than counteracted by the votes of 12 Democrats who joined the majority of Republicans to preserve the Foreign Oil Driller Welfare Program without any reform. They were: