Not pleased with the modest climate and energy reforms Obama unveiled Tuesday, the House sought to drown out the president’s call to “invest, divest” with a reprise of its favorite “drill, baby, drill” chorus.
In a 235-to-186 vote Friday, House lawmakers passed the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, which Climate Progress said “reads like Big Oil’s Christmas list”:
It would open virtually all of the U.S. Atlantic coast, the Pacific coast off Southern California, and much of Alaska’s offshore space to new drilling; require the Obama administration to create a new Five-Year Plan for offshore operations; and generally perpetuate an energy agenda driven by climate deniers.
The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), criticized the offshore plan Obama had put forward, saying it “includes no new drilling, which results in no new American jobs,” The Hill reports. Apparently it’s not a real job unless it’s an oil-industry job.
But actually lots of people in coastal communities make their livings in ways that have nothing to do with oil drilling, and can in fact be hurt by it. From Climate Progress again:
According to the National Ocean Economics Program, in 2011 the ocean economy accounted for 2.7 million jobs and contributed more than $250 billion to our GDP.
Nearly 2 million of those jobs occur in fisheries, tourism, and recreation — all industries that would be put at tremendous risk by expanded offshore drilling activity.
Meanwhile, offshore minerals production supported 143,000 workers. In other words, jobs that depend on healthy, unpolluted, undeveloped ocean space outnumber oil and gas jobs 15 to 1.
Obama has said he would veto the bill.
But now that the president has publicly committed to using his executive power to fight climate change, expect GOP lawmakers to try to fight back in any way they can.