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Congress Protects Plan To Allow Foreign Governments To Drill Oil For Free In American Waters

Deepwater Horizon

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.

deepwater horizon repeatedWhy 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:

Mike Fitzpatrick
Chris Gibson
Walter Jones
Frank LoBiondo
Christopher Smith

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:

Ron Barber
John Barrow
Sanford Bishop
Jim Costa
Henry Cuellar
Pete Gallego
Gene Green
Jim Matheson
Bill Owens
Collin Peterson
Marc Veasey
Filemon Vela

1 comment to Congress Protects Plan To Allow Foreign Governments To Drill Oil For Free In American Waters

  • Dave

    Green Man, thanks for bringing this up. I think Rep. Blumenauer is right on here. The oil belongs to our nation, regardless of who has a “right” to drill for it. The issue, as you pointed out, does not fall cleanly on party lines. Posts on Irregulartimes repeatedly fault Republicans for playing to the conservatives and not supporting all the correct social issues, therefore not warranting any voter support under any circumstances, but Jeb Bush is a great hero here in Florida for stopping all new drilling in Florida waters. Standing leases are another thing and difficult to negotiate, but unlike the sleazeball Democrat Charlie Crist, for eight years Jeb kept his promise. The real estate gamers are putting Charlie in office again (he’s been chasing ambulances like any good Democrat trial lawyer does to pass the time) and if that happens sleaze will proliferate here. Foreign oil companies know who’s bread to butter when they want a favor. Just look at the relationship between Venezuela’s Chavez and the Kennedy young’un. Issues such as you point out are the truly big ones; my fear is that nationally we may end up with a Hillary (a Crist look-alike) just so everybody can get their “free” birth control, only to give the store away on the long-term issues such as who drills for oil and where. This is not a plug for another Bush in Washington – I’m tired of Bushes and I lean toward Libertarians, but if it comes down to choosing officeholders on their record alone, I think his name should at least go in the hat. He will definitely take Florida. Someone such as Hillary the Wall Street woman will get all the votes on the left, and once again those who claim to want protection for the environment will have shot themselves in the foot. Her policy on an issue such as this will never come into question during her campaign, but she will shoot at conservative boogeymen on pissant issues all day long while taking the big contributions from wealthy Democrats who’s money, no doubt, is in oil stocks.

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