This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) that would have allowed states to impose air pollution regulations on oil and gas drilling that were stricter than the regulations imposed by the federal government. 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.
Capps urged support for her amendment: “…This is about giving flexibility to our local air quality districts so that they can apply the technologies that work best for them--they've been doing so for 20 years--so they can continue their work protecting our air quality and the health of our communities. This amendment says that a one-size-fits-all approach that comes from Washington politicians and giant multinational oil companies is the wrong approach. I urge my colleagues to support this straightforward amendment. It's common sense. It will allow state and local air districts to continue to do their job to protect the air quality of coastal communities like the central coast of California--nothing more, and nothing less.”
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) opposed Capps’ amendment: “One of the concerns I have with this amendment is the practical impact it would have in what could best be described as a balkanization in the regulation of federal waters, creating a patchwork quilt, so to speak, of regulations…This will result in chaotic regulation of federal waters, many of which may conflict with interstate commerce….So state regulations…will be used, I believe, unfortunately, by those who would try to obstruct and stop domestic energy production. The policy of this bill, of the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, is to provide a clear process so that resources can be explored, and I am afraid this amendment would cause the opposite.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 180-242. Voting “yea” were 170 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 10 Republicans. 224 Republicans and 18 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have allowed states to impose air pollution regulations on oil and gas drilling that were stricter than the regulations imposed by the federal government.