The lead sponsor, Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), said approval of drilling permits is critical for job growth and U.S. energy security, but that only a few dozen permits have been approved since last October, when the administration lifted the deepwater drilling moratorium.
"As our country struggles to revive itself after a recession, those in the Gulf whose livelihoods depend on our offshore oil and gas production have another obstacle to making ends meet," Green said. "Twelve oil rigs have been forced to leave the Gulf as they sat idle over the last few months and more will certainly follow. If Interior fails to act on the pending permits, this negative economic impact will spread beyond the Gulf States and hit the nation as a whole."
Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), the lead Republican sponsor, said rising energy prices are another key reason for easing the permit process.
"With so much unrest in the Middle East, it is critical that American energy production gets up and running again," he said. "These delays have severely hurt the hard-working men and women of the Gulf Coast, and continue to jeopardize our national security."
Aside from Green, other Democratic sponsors are Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Jim Costa (Texas), Mike Ross (Ark.), Cedric Richmond (La.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Silvestre Reyes (Texas), Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas), Al Green (Texas), and Ruben Hinojosa (Texas).