In a move that may have more bearing on public policy following the 2020 elections than presently, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Democratic majority passed a ban on drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, one of their key legislative objectives.
The bill, House Resolution 1941, is virtually dead-on-arrival in the Republican majority Senate, and the White House already issued a formal veto threat. However, the partisan nature of the process and the Trump administration’s wide-open support for drilling anywhere and everywhere present clear lines of argument going into next year’s contests for the presidency and control of the Senate.
H.R. 1941 passed 238-189, with five Democrats voting no and 12 Republicans voting yes.
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, spoke against the bill, whose lead sponsor is virtually Carter’s neighbor, U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham, the Democrat representing South Carolina’s 1st District.
“I value the beautiful coastline that we have in my district,” Carter said. “But blanket bans instituted by these bills across the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf and Arctic are misguided and are quite plainly the wrong approach.”
H.R. 1941 was one of a group of three bills concerned with environmental protection and prohibiting fossil fuel exploration.
Carter said he raised concerns in January 2018 with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management over their East Coast leasing plans, and noted he sent a letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt asking for Georgia to be removed from those plans, following a vote against offshore drilling in the state House.
“Mr. Speaker, I take public service seriously — when I was elected to serve the people of the 1st District, I knew I would be serving the will of my constituents up here,” Carter said. “That’s why I have been firm in my stance that Georgia be removed from consideration due to concerns from the state legislature.
“But, while my request to remove Georgia from consideration under this plan stands, I firmly believe it will be unwise and counterproductive to move forward with this blanket ban on U.S. federal waters.”
Cunningham said the legislation was necessary to protect and encourage vibrant life along the coast.
“The Lowcountry is a force to be reckoned with, and we stand firm in our opposition to drilling off of our shoreline,” Cunningham said. “Down in the Lowcountry, we know that offshore drilling would ruin our economy, ruin our vibrant natural resources and our unique way of life. That’s why opposition to offshore drilling is not a partisan issue, and I’m proud to work with both Democrats and Republicans to get this done.
“Offshore drilling and the booming tourism industry that we have in the Lowcountry are mutually exclusive pursuits. Tourism in the Palmetto State is a $22.6 billion a year industry and supports one in every 10 jobs in our state. And South Carolina’s tourism industry holds a great deal more promise for statewide economic prosperity.”