This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) that would have banned oil drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf if such drilling would “impede operations” of the U.S. military. This amendment was offered to legislation requiring the Secretary of the Interior to auction leases for oil and gas drilling in the most oil-rich regions of the Outer Continental Shelf (specifically, those areas with more than 2.5 billion barrels of oil or 7.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas).
Connolly urged support for his amendment: “…This simple amendment clarifies that any expanded oil production will not interfere with ongoing operations by the Armed Forces of the United States….As you know, the United States has more than two dozen coastal naval bases, including those located in Virginia, Washington, California, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, and Hawaii….These areas are important because the military uses some of these areas for surface and subsurface training as well as practice with live ordnance. Oil wells and live ordnance don't mix so well….The Navy wants to ensure that oil drilling in that area does not interfere with live ordnance release and impact, including air to surface bombing; sensitive undersea and surface operations; combined shipboard systems qualification trials; and equipment testing and evaluation.”
Rep. Don Young (R-AK) opposed the amendment: “…The Department of Defense never notified, never talked to us about any opposition to this legislation….I also want to point out that gaining access to domestically available and affordable energy resources is also of paramount importance to our national security because it lessens our dependence on foreign sources of energy. Let me say that again. It must be very clear: Energy security and energy independence are a national security priority….This amendment isn't truly aimed at protecting DOD [Department of Defense] activities. It's aimed at trying to block lease sales and stopping offshore energy and development. That's what this is about. So I congratulate the people who are offering this amendment. It's exactly what you'd like to do.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 193-228. Voting “yea” were 176 Democrats and 17 Republicans. 216 Republicans and 12 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have banned oil drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf if such drilling would “impede operations” of the U.S. military.