What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Oil & Gas Industry : (H.R. 2021) On an amendment that would have allowed the Environmental Protection Agency administrator to extend the “public comment” period for oil drilling permits by 30 days (The public comment period refers to the period during which the public can voice support for or opposition to an oil drilling permit prior to that permit being approved.) (2011 house Roll Call 471)
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(H.R. 2021) On an amendment that would have allowed the Environmental Protection Agency administrator to extend the “public comment” period for oil drilling permits by 30 days (The public comment period refers to the period during which the public can voice support for or opposition to an oil drilling permit prior to that permit being approved.)
house Roll Call 471     Jun 22, 2011
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) that would have allowed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator to extend the “public comment” period for oil drilling permits by 30 days. (The public comment period refers to the period during which the public can voice support for or opposition to an oil drilling permit prior to that permit being approved.) This amendment was offered to legislation that would loosen regulations on air pollution caused by oil and gas drilling. In addition, the underlying oil drilling bill would eliminate the Environmental Appeals Board’s authority to review applications for oil drilling leases.

Specifically, current law allowed for a 6-month public comment period on oil drilling permits. Rush’s amendment would have authorized the EPA administrator to grant 30-day extensions for the public comment period.

Rush urged support for his amendment: “My amendment would simply allow the EPA administrator to provide additional 30-day extensions if the administrator determines that such time is necessary to provide adequate time for public participation and sufficient involvement by affected states….input by those most affected by drilling is a vital and necessary part of the permitting process. There was a time not too long ago when my Republican colleagues valued local participation and states' rights; and now that they are in the majority, they are attempting to strip away the power of states and the power of local communities to even participate in the decisions that will affect them the most.”

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) opposed Rush’s amendment: “…This legislation does not in any way curtail, stop, impose the opportunity for anyone to express opposition or comment about a permit. We do not in any way change the comment period that EPA has to determine if they're going to issue, in this case, an exploratory permit….Today, individuals and entities can file a lawsuit against the EPA and their actions. After this bill is passed, they can still file a lawsuit. This amendment basically gives the EPA Administrator the opportunity to grant 30-day extensions on final agency action as the Administrator deems it necessary; but it's not limited to one 30-day period, two 30-day periods or three 30-day periods. In fact, it could go on ad infinitum…”

The House rejected Rush’s amendment by a vote of 172-253. Voting “yea” were 171 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 1 Republican. 234 Republicans and 19 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have allowed the Environmental Protection Agency administrator to extend the public comment period for oil drilling permits by 30 days.

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