What: All Issues : Labor Rights : Occupational Safety and Health : (H.R. 1299) On an amendment that would have implemented new oil drilling safety standards proposed by a commission on the 2010 BP oil spill disaster, including new standards for blowout preventers (which monitor and control oil wells), as well as requirements for cementing and well design (in which cement seals the well and prevents such blowouts). (2011 house Roll Call 301)
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(H.R. 1299) On an amendment that would have implemented new oil drilling safety standards proposed by a commission on the 2010 BP oil spill disaster, including new standards for blowout preventers (which monitor and control oil wells), as well as requirements for cementing and well design (in which cement seals the well and prevents such blowouts).
house Roll Call 301     May 10, 2011
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) that would have implemented new oil drilling safety standards proposed by a commission on the 2010 BP oil spill disaster, including new standards for blowout preventers (which monitor and control oil wells), as well as requirements for cementing and well design (in which cement seals the well and prevents such blowouts). In addition, the amendment required a third party to certify that all safety requirements were being adhered to. This amendment was offered to legislation requiring the Secretary of the Interior to approve or deny offshore oil drilling leases within 30 days of receiving an application.

Following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the Obama administration imposed an offshore drilling moratorium. The administration lifted that moratorium, however, in May 2010. Despite the lifting of the moratorium, however, Republicans argued that the administration had been too slow in approving leases for drilling, and contributed to high gasoline prices. The Obama administration (and many congressional Democrats) countered that it was seeking to improve drilling safety in order to prevent another oil spill disaster. A commission on the BP oil spill issued a report outlining measures that could prevent another disaster in the future. This amendment sought to implement those measures.

Markey urged support for his amendment: “…Here is the BP Blue Ribbon Commission report that was conducted to investigate and to make recommendations as to what the causes were and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. Right now, nothing that is in this report has been implemented in terms of legislation here on the House floor….First, the amendment sets minimum standards for blowout preventers, including a requirement that blowout preventers operate as intended even when the force of an ongoing blowout shifts the drill pipe out of position. The amendment also requires new standards on safe well design and cementing to ensure multiple redundant barriers within the well against uncontrolled oil or gas blow that could lead to a blowout. The amendment also requires independent third-party certification of blowout preventers and well designs.”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) opposed the amendment: “ This amendment micromanages and dictates specific safety and blowout preventer standards for permit applications. Many of these standards would do little or nothing different than what is already being done by the Department of the Interior. However, these restrictions would, if this amendment passes, be etched into law, making Congress the technical arbiter and micromanager of Outer Continental Shelf regulations, and reducing the flexibility and ability of the Department to adapt to new technology and new development in drilling safety….”  

The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 176-237. Voting “yea” were 165 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 11 Republicans. 222 Republicans and 15 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have implemented new oil drilling safety standards proposed by a commission on the 2010 BP oil spill disaster, including new standards for blowout preventers (which monitor and control oil wells), as well as requirements for cementing and well design (which uses cement to seal the well and prevent such blowouts).

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