House approves two bills to block Trump drilling

The House on Wednesday approved two bills that offer sweeping protections for the nation’s coastlines, permanently blocking offshore drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and part of the Gulf of Mexico.

Another vote on legislation to block drilling in the Atlantic is set for Thursday as House Democrats seek to advance their pro-environment agenda. 

“We’re striking back this week against the Trump administration and their agenda to drill everywhere, every time, with no exception,” House Energy and Natural Resources Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said ahead of Wednesday’s votes.

There is minimal drilling taking place in the areas protected by the bills, but Democrats want to block off areas the Trump administration is eager to tap as part of its energy dominance strategy. That plan has been put on hold as the administration fights to drill in parts of the Arctic previously protected by President Obama.

The White House on Monday announced that President Trump would veto the bills.

“These bills would undermine the Administration’s commitment to a prosperous American economy supported by the responsible use of the Nation’s abundant natural resources,” the White House wrote in a statement.

H.R. 1941, the bill to block drilling along the East and West coasts, passed with 238 votes. H.R. 205, the bill that would block drilling along Florida’s coast in the Gulf of Mexico, passed with 248 votes.

“When you have offshore structures, rigs or otherwise exposed to a marine and corrosive environment, something is going to break down and something is going to spill,” said Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.), a freshman who campaigned on opposition to offshore drilling and sponsored the bill to ban drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts.

“If we have if we’re learning anything from the past, it’s that when you drill, you spill. No one should be comfortable exposing our shorelines to that risk,” he said.

The bills enjoy broad support among Democrats but each also secured Republican co-sponsors. Florida Republicans were particularly eager to sign on to the bill to protect their coastline, an effort led by Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), alongside nine other Sunshine State conservatives.

Offshore drilling is deeply unpopular in Florida, where nearly 70 percent of voters approved a constitutional amendment to ban such drilling 

Rooney repeatedly thanked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for helping to bring the bill to the floor and said he hoped it would garner votes from other Republicans.

“I think this is an important opportunity for the Republican Party to show young people, soccer moms like George Bush’s old coalition, university people that the Republican Party can do other things than just scream about guns,” Rooney told reporters. 

Read more about the bills here.

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