By Jennifer A. Dlouhy
The other legislation (H.R. 1941) would put a permanent moratorium on oil and gas leasing in U.S. Atlantic and Pacific waters, effectively restoring prohibitions that existed before a spike in crude prices helped prompt their withdrawal in 2008.
Democratic supporters say the measures are essential to protect U.S. waters and coastal economies that are dependent on them. And they argue that oil drilling in untapped U.S. waters isn’t compatible with an urgent need to counter climate change by shifting away from fossil fuels that generate greenhouse gas emissions.
Trump administration and top Republican lawmakers criticized the measures as misguided, saying America’s energy resources can be harnessed in a safe and environmentally conscious way. “These restrictive anti-energy bills threaten our American energy renaissance,” said Representative Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana. The White House said the Florida-focused measure could actually encourage oil development in other U.S. waters still open for drilling.
The Interior Department has postponed work on a new plan for selling offshore drilling rights from 2019 through 2024, amid Republican concerns and after a legal defeat casting doubt on how much Arctic acreage could be auctioned. The administration had opened the door to auctioning tracts in more than 90% of U.S. coastal waters in 2017.