This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) that would have prohibited oil and gas drilling off the Northern coast of California. 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).
Following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the Obama administration imposed an offshore drilling moratorium. The administration lifted that moratorium, however, in May 2010. Despite lifting the moratorium, however, Republicans argued that the administration had been too slow in approving leases for drilling, and contributed to high gasoline prices. The Obama administration (and many congressional Democrats) countered that it was seeking to improve drilling safety in order to prevent another oil spill disaster.
Thompson urged support for his amendment: “Drilling on the north coast of California is a disastrous idea, and the legislation must be clear that it is not acceptable to drill off California's north coast….Just about 3 weeks ago, we marked the 1-year anniversary of the nation's worst oil spill. I will not let what happened to the Gulf of Mexico happen to the north coast of California. I have introduced separate stand-alone legislation which would permanently ban drilling off the coast of my district….”
Rep. Don Young (R-AK) opposed the amendment: “The underlying bill is focused on opening the Outer Continental Shelf to safe and responsible energy production….This amendment proposes to take America in exactly the wrong direction in which we should be heading. Congress should not foreclose the possibility of future energy production. With the price of gasoline going to $4 and $5 a gallon, I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment and keep our focus on those offshore areas that contain substantial oil and natural resources, where increased American energy production will create new jobs, lower energy prices, and increase our economic and national security.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 156-263. Voting “yea” were 152 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 4 Republicans. 226 Republicans and 37 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have prohibited oil and gas drilling off the Northern coast of California.