This vote was on an amendment that would ensure offshore oil exploration is off limits in northern California.
Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) offered the amendment to a Republican bill that would open up vast new stretches of federally owned territory to energy exploration. Rep. Thompson said the area of northern California that he represents has very little oil but a large number of earthquakes and marine life. That combination makes it a bad place to drill for oil, he said. His amendment would have ensured the federal government could not sell leases to drill for oil off the shore of California from San Francisco to the Oregon border.
“The waters off our shore are quite simply the most abundant and exquisitely beautiful on the face of the Earth. Our commercial fishing industry depends on this thriving marine ecosystem. These waters are invaluable to the research of university scientists, and more than 16,000 tourism jobs in Sonoma County alone depend on these open, beautiful waters,” Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) said. “If the majority were truly interested in helping job creators, they would not be supporting a drill-everywhere approach.”
Republicans argued that the amendment would unwisely limit options for energy exploration. Even though the northern California coast does not appear to be a good place for oil and gas drilling, there is no reason to put up legal barriers that would prevent exploration in the future, they said.
“This legislation … aims to open up our federal resources and increase energy production despite President Obama's failure to do just the opposite. This amendment would simply block additional areas from energy production in the future,” Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) said.
Rep. Thompson’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 167-253. Voting “yea” were 162 Democrats, including a majority of progressives, and 5 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 229 Republicans and 24 Democrats. As a result, the House did not exempt the waters off northern California from legislation opening vast new stretches of federally owned territory to energy exploration.