June 11, 2008
Interior Appropriations Subcommittee approves funding bill minus critical domestic energy production amendment
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior today marked up and approved the Fiscal Year 2009 funding bill for the Department of the Interior. However, a critical amendment which would provide some relief from the nation’s exploding oil prices failed to garner enough Democratic support to be included in the passed bill.
The energy amendment, sponsored by Rep. John Peterson (R-PA), would change federal restrictions on Outer Continental Shelf oil and natural gas production – allowing energy exploration off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and the eastern
Gulf of Mexico . The amendment would not completely lift the existing federal ban, but would revise the regulations to allow exploration more than 50 miles from the coastline. Foreign governments, including the Chinese, currently engage in energy exploration just 60 miles off
“Gas prices are $4 a gallon and rising, our economy is struggling, and we’re a nation at war in a region that holds the key to our oil dependence,” House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis said. “It is greatly unfortunate that this amendment – a common sense solution that would help ease our energy crisis, lessen our dependence on foreign oil, and lower gas prices – is not supported by the majority party.”
While the Peterson amendment was not included in the legislation, the bill does contain other funding provisions for various agencies. In total, the Interior appropriations legislation contain $27.8 billion in funding, which is $1.26 billion above the Fiscal Year 2008 level and $2 billion more than the President’s request. The bill also provides $100 million in critically needed wildfire preparedness funding to help prevent and address devastating and expensive wildfire emergencies, particularly in the western
United States .
“While it is important to make sure these agencies are adequately funded, we also must take a close look at these programs and make some tough decisions about how and where to best spend taxpayer dollars. Many American families are struggling to make ends meet, it is important that we be even more careful and prudent with their tax dollars,” Lewis said.