This was an amendment by Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) that would have required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to submit a report to Congress determining the extent to which an oil drilling bill would lower gas prices for consumers. 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. (The Republicans had contended that the underlying oil drilling bill would lower the price of gasoline.)
Hochul urged support for her amendment: “I stand here today to ask one simple question: How will the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011 reduce the cost of gasoline for consumers? I think this is a fair question, one that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle should want the answer to. The price of gasoline is soaring in our country, and across the nation Americans are paying too much at the pump. The average gasoline right now is $3.63, up over a dollar from a year ago. Diesel, which our struggling farmers have to pay, has gone up a dollar per gallon in the same timeframe. However, as I've stated on this floor before, the people in my district are paying much more than that. In the past, western New Yorkers have paid some of the highest gas prices in this nation. Rising fuel prices have hurt our small businesses. They hurt our farms, and they hurt our families at a time when money is far too scarce….Under this bill, American people are supposed to put their trust in the same oil companies that have consistently betrayed that trust. They tell us we need to drill more, and they tell us they need to get more permits on an expedited basis in order to do so.”
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) opposed Hochul’s amendment: “Now, in America we're using around 20 million barrels of oil a day, and the vast majority of that is being imported into the U.S. from other sources….we want any company to have the ability to go out and drill and to get an expedited answer from EPA. We're not even directing EPA to approve the permit. We're simply saying make a decision. And then if the other side does not like the decision, they have an opportunity to go to court. Under the way it's operating today, we can't get a final decision to even go to court. So here we are in limbo. I might also say that on the gentlelady's amendment, she does not give any time for this report to be issued. And knowing EPA's track record, we could be here 10 years waiting for a report. But more important than that, EPA really does not perform economic analyses of energy markets. The Energy Information Administration does that. They have the modeling to do it, they have the technicians to do it, they have the information to do it. EPA really does not even do a very good job on their regulations of thinking about the impact on jobs in America.”
The House rejected Hochul’s amendment by a vote of 186-238. Voting “yea” were 178 Democrats and 8 Republicans. 226 Republicans and 12 Democrats. As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have required the Environmental Protection Agency to submit a report to Congress determining the extent to which a bill loosening regulations on air pollution caused by oil and gas drilling would lower gas prices for consumers.