Lawmakers aim to use spending bill to block offshore drilling

Lawmakers aim to use spending bill to block offshore drilling
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House lawmakers in both parties are hoping to use a spending bill to block offshore oil and natural gas drilling in the waterways off their states’ coasts.

A handful of lawmakers, mainly from coastal states, are sponsoring proposed amendments to the annual appropriations bill for the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would block Interior funding to allow drilling in particular areas.

The full House is set to vote on the funding measure this week.

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The amendments match with the bipartisan opposition in many coastal states to the Trump administration’s controversial January proposal to allow oil and gas drilling along nearly the entirety of the United States’ coasts, including the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Gulf of Mexico and all around Alaska.

While Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeThe case for transferring federal lands back to Native Americans International hunting council disbands amid litigation Europe deepens energy dependence on Russia MORE has promised to listen to state leaders and lawmakers — and implied that fierce opposition can make drilling less attractive — putting the prohibitions into legislation would ensure that drilling wouldn’t happen.

The proposed amendments would block Interior from issuing drilling rights leases along the entire Atlantic and Pacific coasts and the eastern Gulf of Mexico, which touches Florida.

One such proposal from a bipartisan group of nine lawmakers, led by Reps. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanDemocrats call for stimulus to boost Social Security benefits by 0 a month Schiff: Remote voting would not compromise national security House Democrats eyeing much broader Phase 3 stimulus MORE (D-Calif.) and Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertBottom Line The most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lymphedema Treatment Act would provide a commonsense solution to a fixable problem MORE (R-Wash.), would block drilling and leasing from the entire Pacific coast.

“Protecting our coastal communities, local economies, and fragile ocean ecosystems should not be a partisan issue,” Huffman said in a statement, adding that he's “grateful to Rep. Reichert for joining our bipartisan amendment to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Coronavirus hits defense contractor jobs Wake up America, your country doesn't value your life MORE’s planned oil and gas drilling off of our Pacific coast, which reflects the unified opposition of the Governors of Washington, Oregon, and California.”

In his own statement, Reichert said he's "deeply concerned" about Trump's proposal for Pacific coast drilling.

"Drilling off our coasts has the potential to have a negative lasting effect on our oceans and shorelines," he said. "Our country is at the forefront of developing efficient and cost effective alternative energy technologies and we should continue to support innovation in this area."

Reps. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzTop health official Fauci: People in US not easily getting coronavirus testing 'is a failing' Sanders poised for big Super Tuesday Establishment Democrats rallying behind Biden MORE (D-Fla.), Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyLessons from the front line — Florida's fight with sea level rise Overnight Energy: Trump issues rule replacing Obama-era waterway protections | Pelosi slams new rule as 'an outrageous assault' | Trump water policy exposes sharp divides 2 Democrats say they voted against war powers resolution 'because it merely restated existing law' MORE (R-Fla.) and Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorOvernight Energy: Military sees surge in sites contaminated by 'forever chemicals' | USDA closes office wing due to coronavirus | Watchdog raises concerns over Trump energy regulator Biden seeks to capitalize on Super Tuesday surprise M ad buy praises swing-district Democrats' environmental work MORE (D-Fla.) joined together for an amendment that would prevent Interior from allowing drilling in any offshore areas bordering Florida, including the Atlantic side and the entire eastern third of the Gulf of Mexico.

“The Trump Administration’s all-out assault on our environment has reached startling lows," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.

"Reckless proposals to expand offshore oil drilling — opposed by elected officials in both parties throughout Florida — would threaten our state’s coasts and jeopardize the lifeblood of our Florida’s tourism economy. Extending the moratorium on offshore drilling off of Florida’s Gulf coast, and holding oil companies more accountable for their actions, is urgently needed.”

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) is leading 15 Democrats from along the entire Atlantic coast with a measure that would block all drilling leases anywhere in the Atlantic.

While no Republicans are on that amendment, some GOP lawmakers have their own more limited ones. Rep. Scott TaylorScott William TaylorAvenatti held in El Chapo's old jail cell, lawyers say Vulnerable Democrats feel heat ahead of impeachment vote The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today MORE’s (R-Va.) proposal would shut down the possibility of drilling in the waters from Maine to North Carolina, while Rep. Mark SanfordMark SanfordTrump becomes presumptive GOP nominee after sweeping primaries Boston Globe endorses Trump's GOP challenger Bill Weld Trump challenger Bill Weld rules out 2020 independent bid MORE’s (R-S.C.) amendment would be similar to the Democrats’, blocking drilling or leasing along the entire Atlantic coast, as well as the eastern Gulf.The House Rules Committee plans to meet starting late Monday to decide which amendments will be allowed to get a vote on the House floor.

The full bill, with any amendments attached, is due to get a vote later in the week.

— Updated at 5:15 p.m.