News / USA

Senate Bill to Expand Offshore Drilling Falls Short

Sen. John Barrasso [C] quotes a USA Today article about gas prices as he and Sen. Lamar Alexander [L] and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell [R] speak to reporters, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., May 17, 2011
Sen. John Barrasso [C] quotes a USA Today article about gas prices as he and Sen. Lamar Alexander [L] and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell [R] speak to reporters, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., May 17, 2011
Cindy Saine

The U.S. Senate has failed to pass a bill that would have opened up more areas to offshore oil drilling and forced government regulators to speed up their decisions on oil drilling permits. The vote was 57 against the bill, and 42 in favor - 18 short of the needed 60 'yes' votes to advance to the Senate floor. Lawmakers realize that their constituents are upset about high gasoline prices, but disagree on what course of action to take.

With opinion polls showing that more than 80 percent of Americans are worried about high gasoline prices, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are bringing up different kinds of approaches to deal with the problem. On Wednesday, the Democratic-controlled Senate defeated a bill sponsored by Republicans to expand offshore oil drilling.

Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi explains what the bill would have done. "This bill would require proposed lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, in the mid-Atlantic and those off of Alaska to be completed. It would cut bureaucratic red tape, while speeding up the approval of drilling permits and energy activity suspended during the administration's moratorium on offshore oil drilling would be extended by one year," said Wicker.

Most Democratic lawmakers voted against the bill, saying it would fail to lower gasoline prices and that it ignores safety lessons learned from last year's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest oil spill in history. Democratic Senator Robert Menendez objected to provisions that would have set a 60-day deadline for government regulators to decide on drilling permits, and on proposed drilling off the coast of Virginia.

"Haven't we learned anything from the tragic death of 11 men aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig a little over a year ago? Haven't we learned anything about the families that lost their livelihoods and the Gulf economy that will take decades to finally rebuild?" he asked.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois also opposed the measure, quoting an election campaign slogan used by Republican Senator John McCain in his unsuccessful run for  the White House in 2008.

"So the Republican answer is 'Drill, baby drill?!' Honestly that is not going to solve the problem, and it is going to invite some dangerous activities, which we should know better than to engage in," he said.

For their part, Republican senators defeated a Democratic-sponsored vote Tuesday that would have ended tax incentives for the five largest oil companies. Democrats say with the high price of gasoline, subsidies for oil companies are unnecessary because they are already making huge profits. Republican Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of pushing the measure for political purposes to stir up anger against oil companies.

"They pushed a tax on energy because evidently some of their leaders think it polls well," said McConnell. "Well, so does Mother's Day. I would suggest that Democrats spend a little more time looking at the price of gas at their local gas stations, than at the latest polling numbers about class warfare rhetoric."

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers are likely paying attention to opinion polls on gas prices. A Politico/George Washington University poll released Monday found that 28 percent of respondents blamed oil and gas companies for the surge in gas prices.  22 percent of those asked blamed oil-exporting countries, and only 12 percent blamed President Obama and his administration.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid