White House threatens to veto GOP drilling bill

The White House on Monday waved the veto pen at a House GOP bill that would require vastly wider offshore oil-and-gas leasing.

“The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 6082, which would undermine the targeted, science-based, and regionally-tailored offshore development strategy that the American people and the States have helped develop over the last three years,” the White House said in a “formal statement of administration policy,” referring to the House plan by its bill number.

The drilling bill is likely to clear the House this week but faces almost no chance in the Senate. Nonetheless, the White House warned that if it somehow reached President Obama’s desk, his senior advisers would recommend a veto.

The House will vote as soon as Tuesday on the bill that requires Interior Department oil-and-gas leasing off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, which remain off-limits for at least the next five years under the Obama administration’s plans.

The bill also calls for a more aggressive schedule of lease sales in Arctic waters off Alaska’s coast than the Obama administration plan, which is far more cautious about Arctic development by waiting to hold new lease sales there until 2016 and 2017.

Republicans allege the White House is keeping too many promising regions off-limits to oil-and-gas drillers.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), after his panel approved the plan last week, called the bill “an environmentally responsible drill-smart plan that will create jobs, grow our economy, and lower gasoline prices with more American energy.”

But Obama administration officials say their plan — which is focused on the Gulf of Mexico, and new Arctic lease sales in several years — provides industry ample access.

“The Administration’s recently announced five-year strategy for offshore oil and gas leasing makes areas containing more than 75 percent of estimated, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in our oceans available for exploration and development — including all of the highest resource areas on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS),” the White House said Monday.

The White House also said that Hastings’ bill would “establish unworkable deadlines and substantive and procedural limitations on important environmental review.”



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