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House Republicans Pass Bill To Let Oil Companies Expand Drilling On Federal Land And Offshore

GOP lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday to allow oil companies expand oil and natural gas drilling on federal land and offshore. The bill passed 19 to 14, with nearly all Republicans in support and all Democrats opposing.

The legislation, the Strengthening the Economy with Critical Untapped Resources to Expand American Energy Act — or SECURE American Energy Act — would provide for Alaska to take shares of revenue from future offshore oil drilling.

On federal land, it would allow states to take over permitting and oversight authority for drilling on federal lands within their borders, which Republicans said would remove unnecessary federal red tape.

The bill also ends the president’s authority to withdraw offshore areas for drilling, shielding oil companies from future executive orders aimed at protecting the environment.

Democrats said the bill would remove necessary protections, like those for marine mammals and birds, while ignoring and exacerbating climate change.

“This bill does nothing to solve the real energy problems we’re facing today,” Rep. Alan Lowenthal (Calif.), the minerals subpanel’s top Democrat, said at the hearing.

The committee rejected numerous Democratic amendments at its hearing. The amendments would have made changes like requiring a 1,5000-foot setback from homes and businesses for gas wells, extending a moratorium on offshore drilling near Florida and requiring that states overseeing federal-land drilling consult with American Indian tribes for their decisions.

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