White House slams House drilling bill, but again no veto threat

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Republicans call the bill needed to knock down what they call administration barriers to domestic energy production. It’s the latest of several drilling bills Republicans are moving through the House aimed at speeding up drilling and opening more areas for development.

The White House has been criticizing the measures but declining to issue the veto threats that often accompany presidents’ formal statements of opposition to legislation.

Here is the entire White House statement issued Tuesday:

The Administration is committed to a common sense approach to cut oil imports by a third by 2025, in order to secure America’s energy future and protect consumers.  The Administration intends to do this by both producing more oil at home and reducing our dependence on oil by using cleaner, alternative fuels and improving our energy efficiency.  In support of more safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production, the Administration is already taking steps including: expediting the search for resources; leasing new areas both offshore and onshore; providing incentives for the development of existing leases; and issuing permits to drill, consistent with rigorous safety standards and environmental responsibility.  However, the Administration opposes H.R. 2021, because it would curtail the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to help ensure that domestic oil production on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) proceeds safely, responsibly, and with opportunities for efficient stakeholder input. 

H.R. 2021 would limit existing EPA authority to protect human health and the environment.  The bill would:  (1) preclude EPA from requiring offshore sources to demonstrate compliance with health-based air quality standards anywhere but in a single onshore area; (2) reduce the length of time during which exploration platforms and drill ships are emission sources under the CAA, thereby limiting the time when emissions would be controlled; and (3) make it impossible to use the permitting program to set emission control requirements for service vessels associated with offshore sources.  These changes could result in increased air pollution from OCS sources, including nitrogen dioxide, particles, and sulfur dioxide.

H.R. 2021 would increase Federal court litigation and deprive citizens of an important avenue for challenging government action that affects local public health.  H.R. 2021 would replace a relatively fast, inexpensive process for citizens to challenge government action with a longer, more expensive review process in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.