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 ZinkeInterior's border surge puts more officers in unfamiliar role Not 'if' but 'when' is the next Deepwater Horizon spill? Former Wyoming GOP lawmaker mulling Senate bid to replace Enzi 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 HuffmanOvernight Energy: Dems dismiss Interior chief's work calendars as 'fake' | Buttigieg climate plan includes carbon tax | Poll finds growing number say climate is crucial 2020 issue Dem criticizes newest calendars for Trump Interior chief as 'fake' Human rights bill on ANWR ignores humans and their rights MORE (D-Calif.) and Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertLymphedema Treatment Act would provide a commonsense solution to a fixable problem Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm 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 TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' 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 SchultzCongressional Women's Softball team releases roster Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief | House panel advances bill to block military funds for border wall | Trump defends Bolton despite differences House panel advances bill to block military construction funds for border wall MORE (D-Fla.), Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyOvernight Energy: Bipartisan climate caucus eyes litmus test for new members| Green groups want freeze on Keystone construction| Bernhardt sworn in as Secretary of Interior Overnight Energy: Bipartisan climate caucus eyes litmus test for new members | Greens want freeze on Keystone construction | Bernhardt sworn in as Interior chief Bipartisan climate caucus eyes litmus test for new members MORE (R-Fla.) and Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorHouse climate panel will study drilling ban backed by 2020 Dems Overnight Energy — Presented by Job Creators Network — Ocasio-Cortez knocks O'Rourke's climate plan | Dems in disarray over Paris climate bill | Climate change top issue for Dem voters in poll Dems lack unified plan for pushing Paris climate bill 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 TaylorVirginia special prosecutor indicts former GOP campaign staffer The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Ex-GOP Rep. Ryan Costello joins group pushing carbon tax MORE’s (R-Va.) proposal would shut down the possibility of drilling in the waters from Maine to North Carolina, while Rep. Mark SanfordMarshall (Mark) Clement SanfordClash with Trump marks latest break with GOP leaders for Justin Amash WANTED: A Republican with courage Trump keeps tight grip on GOP 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.