On November 6, by a vote of 188 to 210, the House defeated a motion by Rep. Bob Filner (D.-Calif.) to instruct conferees on the energy bill (H.R. 6) to remove a section that will make it easier to use America’s natural resources.
The energy bill was being negotiated at the time in a House-Senate conference committee. Filner’s motion would have forced the diversion of storm runoff water for the sake of oil and gas exploration to be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency even though such approval is not required under the Clean Water Act. Despite the law, the EPA would have gotten an effective veto over oil exploration projects, because Filner’s motion to instruct would have allowed EPA bureaucrats to block projects by requiring permits for the construction of exploration sites.
“Sometimes the Republican Party is called the GOP,” said Filner. “Well, I often wondered what that meant. It is clear from this energy bill that it means ‘Gas, Oil and Petroleum.’ And my motion would instruct the conferees to strike a section of H.R. 6 which represents a shameless payback to the oil and gas companies of this nation.”
Filner complained that the section in question “grants oil and gas companies a free pass from complying with the Clean Water Act. . .Under this section, oil and gas development and production sites and construction sites do not have to worry about what their activities are doing to our water supply. No other industry in America gets this exemption; only the oil and gas development and production industry. And, they are under no obligation to control storm water runoff that would sully our beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams, and they suffer no consequences.”
But Rep. Joe Barton (R.-Tex.) pointed out that the Clean Water Act has always explicitly exempted oil and gas exploration from the EPA’s permitting jurisdiction. EPA bureaucrats, he said, have nonetheless tried to regulate oil and gas exploration, by requiring permits for construction of exploration sites that need to divert water around exploration projects.
Barton said that the new bill would end this absurd practice, which clearly contradicts the spirit of the law on the books.
“The EPA seems willing to entertain those and argue that dirt, D-I-R-T, is a contaminant.”
The liberal Filner shot back that dirt is indeed a contaminant. “[T]here is no evidence, even from the oil and gas industries, even from the GOP, that the storm water flowing through the construction sites are free of sediments or other pollutants,” he said. “That is what makes them contaminated.”
With his remarks, Filner dashed several members’ hopes that the earth can ever be cleaned up.
A “yes” vote was a vote for the motion to instruct, and, in effect, was a vote to classify dirt as a pollutant. A “no” vote was a vote against the motion to instruct.
|FOR THE MOTION: 188||AGAINST THE MOTION: 210|
|REPUBLICANS FOR: 24
DEMOCRATS FOR: 163
INDEPENDENTS FOR: 1
|REPUBLICANS AGAINST: 191
Davis, Jo Ann
DEMOCRATS AGAINST: 19
NOT VOTING: 36
|REPUBLICANS (13):||DEMOCRATS (23):||INDEPENDENTS (0)|