This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) that would have subjected Shell Oil’s “icebreaker” ships (ships that are literally designed to break through ice) to federal air pollution regulations. While Shell’s icebreakers are not used for oil drilling, they service ships engaged in drilling operations.
Specifically, the underlying oil-drilling bill would exempt Shell’s icebreakers from air pollution regulations. Hastings’ amendment would have eliminated this exemption.
Hastings urged support for his amendment: “…It would seem to me there is ever-mounting evidence that Republicans are willing to expand offshore drilling regardless of cost to the environment. This particular iteration of what I describe as a near-criminal energy policy takes the form of a sellout of hard-working Americans' right to breathe clean air. In particular, this bill excludes Shell Oil's icebreaker ships in the Arctic from regulation under the Clean Air Act….Shell is asking Congress, and Republicans are obliging, to create a legal loophole so that Shell, their company, can pollute with impunity and not be bothered by complying with environmental regulations designed to minimize our desecration of the earth. This loophole would create a dream scenario for Shell and the rest of the oil industry, currently taking in record profits as gas prices soar for the average American family. For its 2010 drilling operations, it was not the amount of emissions from the drill ship itself that triggered the application of the Clean Air Act regulations to Shell's operations, but the emissions from Shell's icebreakers.”
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) opposed Hastings’ amendment: “What we are talking about here is something akin to requiring the employee of a factory to overhaul his engine simply because he parks next to the factory. It is requiring a re-engining of service vessels simply because they happen to be in the area of a stationary source. So basically what we are talking about in the bill is saying that once a drilling ship starts to drill, that is when it becomes stationary. To require the vessels that service that drill ship, to require them to be stationary would be like requiring the UPS truck to fall under the same regulations as the factory that it is delivering to, or treating an emissions testing facility like it has wheels and ought to be moving around to everybody else because it is testing the emissions of a stationary source. So I rise to oppose this amendment, again, because of issues it is trying to deal with, mixing stationary and mobile sources.”
The House rejected Hastings’ amendment by a vote of 167-254. Voting “yea” were 166 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 1 Republican. 230 Republicans and 24 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have subjected Shell Oil’s “icebreaker” ships to federal air pollution regulations.