Three Drilling Bills Clear House Committee

In a seven-hour markup session today, the House Natural Resources Committee approved three bills that would expand oil and natural gas exploration in Alaska and the outer continental shelf, all without bipartisan support.

Expanded drilling is expected to be one of the new revenue sources in the House transportation bill, which will be marked up by the Transportation and Infrastructure committee tomorrow morning. But there was something missing from all three drilling bills which took a few observers by surprise, including Taxpayers For Common Sense:

[A]ll three bills curiously lack what would seem to be a critical element: a requirement that the collected royalties be used for infrastructure. The bills are completely silent on the issue. … [I]t is entirely possible, if not likely, that [the House transportation bill] will tie all three together and mandate how the funds are used.

Democrats also introduced amendments that would tighten Buy America requirements, allow states to opt out of offshore drilling agreements by popular referendum, and complete more rigorous studies on the environmental impacts of certain projects. None were agreed to.