Boxer Disparages Energy Bill’s Offshore Drilling Provision

By Published On: March 13, 2004

The latest rendition of the tortured federal energy bill would weaken the ability of California and other coastal states to control offshore drilling?including for natural gas?much to the consternation of Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer and a Republican lawmaker. While drilling for natural gas is not being discussed for California?s near future, pressures on existing gas supplies, as well as controversy over bringing in gas from overseas via liquefied natural gas facilities, could make this issue a long-term tug of war. Boxer and Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina) urged the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), to delete the provision that would give the secretary of the interior more authority over oil and gas facilities at the expense of states. ?This centralization authority would undermine the well-established partnership role of coastal states by failing to require adequate consultation with the states and Department of Commerce, which has jurisdiction over the living marine resources,? the senators wrote March 5. Boxer and Dole also took issue with the proposal leapfrogging a bipartisan report soon to be released that will make recommendations to improve governance of coastal resources. At issue is language that would specifically limit state control of offshore development and pipeline construction proposals and affect their ability to collect information and comment on decisions under the Coastal Zone Management Act. ?The bill would weaken the CZMA?s consistency guidelines and states? rights by imposing severely restrictive and unreasonable deadlines for decision-making by the Secretary of Commerce,? the senators warned.

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