House to Vote on Oil Spill Bill

Washington, D.C., July 30, 2010—Today the House of Representatives will vote on an energy bill to address BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The bill, however, would go far beyond addressing the problems that led to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and effectively ban all offshore drilling in the United States, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“True to White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel’s directive never to let a crisis go to waste, anti-energy forces have decided that the time is ripe to shut down all U.S. offshore drilling under the guise of increasing safety,” said CEI Director of Energy Policy Myron Ebell. “Shutting down an entire sector of the nation’s energy infrastructure to placate environmentalists might seem politically expedient at the moment, but the future costs and job losses will tell another story.”

The legislation, known as the CLEAR Act, would increase taxes on oil and natural gas, raising prices for all consumers at a time of recession and high unemployment. Its regulatory changes would also drive smaller operators out of business, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue at a time when many states are already considering taxes hikes to cover budget deficits.

“It’s ironic that the House leadership is trying to spin this bill as helping the states along the Gulf of Mexico, because this is the region that will be most harmed by this ill-conceived over-reaction to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy,” said CEI Energy Policy Analyst William Yeatman. “By targeting an entire industry, the CLEAR Act threatens thousands of well-paying jobs.”

If legislators really want to hold BP accountable, they should also reevaluate their own history with the company, which until recently was praised by members of Congress as being a leader in the industry. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) even boasted that the company’s lobbyists had helped write major climate change legislation that would have shifted billions of dollars from consumers to energy companies through a cap and trade scheme for regulating greenhouse gases.  

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest group that studies the intersection of regulation, risk, and markets.