Republicans Vote to Thwart Imaginary Drilling Restriction

The House voted to bar the Energy Department from blocking offshore permits, but that’s Interior’s turf, and DOE has nothing to do with it.

A supply boat, lower left, passes an oil production platform in the Gulf of Mexico May 26, 2010. Offshore oil production and drilling structures dot the Louisiana coastline.    UPI/A.J. Sisco..
National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
July 11, 2014, 7:05 a.m.

How badly do House Re­pub­lic­ans want to knee­cap White House en­ergy reg­u­la­tions?

They voted over­whelm­ingly Thursday to bar the En­ergy De­part­ment from block­ing ap­prov­al of off­shore-drilling per­mits. But there’s just one thing: The En­ergy De­part­ment doesn’t reg­u­late drilling. The In­teri­or De­part­ment does.

The pro­hib­i­tion on the En­ergy De­part­ment reg­u­lat­ing something that it doesn’t reg­u­late came came via Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Steve Stock­man’s amend­ment to a wider de­part­ment spend­ing bill, which also passed Thursday.

Re­pub­lic­ans have long ar­gued that Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion reg­u­lat­ors tie up drilling per­mits in red tape.

But on the House floor Thursday, Demo­crat­ic Rep. Marcy Kaptur said Stock­man’s amend­ment tar­get­ing the En­ergy De­part­ment was bark­ing up the wrong tree.

“There are no funds re­lated to this pur­pose in our bill at all,” she said, adding that the amend­ment has “no re­la­tion­ship to the bill be­fore us here in the House.”

Stock­man ar­gued, however, that “there is over­sight” and that “there has been, I feel, un­fair in­ter­fer­ence.” He also spoke gen­er­ally about the jobs and oth­er be­ne­fits of U.S. pro­duc­tion. His aides did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment Fri­day morn­ing.

Stock­man may have been seek­ing to make a lar­ger point. A Ju­ly 10 press re­lease an­noun­cing the amend­ments Stock­man hoped to of­fer in­cludes one called “End the En­ergy Road­b­lock,” de­scribed this way:

“No funds shall be ap­pro­pri­ated to the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency, De­part­ment of the In­teri­or or De­part­ment of En­ergy if all off­shore drilling per­mits filed with the Bur­eau of Ocean En­ergy Man­age­ment or Bur­eau of Safety and En­vir­on­ment­al En­force­ment are not ac­ted on in a fair and timely man­ner.”

An­oth­er hoped-for Stock­man amend­ment that didn’t come up would “end the EPA,” ac­cord­ing to the re­lease.

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