House sets up Wednesday vote to replace Obama's oil and gas lease plans

"It's now Congress's responsibility to take action, reject President Obama's no new drilling, no new jobs plan, and replace it with a robust, responsible plan to safely develop our offshore energy resources," Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said Tuesday.

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Hastings also announced that Republicans would set up two main votes on Wednesday — one on the GOP bill, and another on a bill that reflects Obama's five-year plan. That Obama bill, H.R. 6168, was introduced Tuesday by Hastings, who indicated that Republicans would essentially dare Democrats to vote for Obama's plan.

"Tomorrow's vote is a clear choice between President Obama's plan that blocks access to 85 percent of our offshore energy resources or the bipartisan plan that embraces new American energy production to create jobs and lessen our dangerous dependence on foreign oil," Hastings said. "I believe it's clear that the American people are in favor of more jobs, more American energy and less of President Obama's empty energy rhetoric."

The administration has defended its five-year plan by saying it is making several promising areas available for lease sales, and has threatened to veto the GOP bill.

Democrats used the Tuesday debate to argue that the GOP bill once again plays up the need to develop oil and gas, but ignores the development of wind, solar and other energy sources. Several Democrats offered amendments aimed at securing language related to environmental safety.

The House debated all eight amendments to the bill on Tuesday night, which means the House can vote on those that still need a vote on Wednesday. By voice vote, members approved a technical corrections amendment from Republicans. It also approved one from Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) to require that when determining areas off the California coast to open for leasing, the Secretary of the Interior must consult with California's governor and legislature.

Roll call votes will be needed on the remaining six, from:

• Rush Holt (D-N.J.), to strike language requiring the Secretary of Interior conduct a single multi-sale environmental impact statement for all of the new areas opened for drilling.

• Ed Markey (D-Mass.), to prohibit gas produced under new leases from being exported.

• Markey, to create a statutory requirement that leases offered under the bill would be required to include specific drilling safety modifications.

• Holt, to bar new leases to companies that have not renegotiated Clinton-era leases in the Gulf of Mexico to raise the royalty rates they pay.

• Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), to require another report from the Secretary of the Interior on each well to be drilled under a lease to include the amount of expected oil and gas and the effect on gas prices.

• Hastings, to require a report for each oil well on the expected global impact from consumption.

— This story was updated Wednesday afternoon to note that the Richardson amendment was approved by voice vote.

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