U.S. House of Representatives votes to strengthen offshore drilling oversight
Cleaning oiled wildlife is a dirty, difficult job. But an even bigger challenge is creating effective conservation laws that prevent disasters like this in the first place—and that make a lasting difference for protecting imperiled species and habitats. So when the U.S House of Representatives passed the CLEAR Act on July 30, 2010, the victory represented years of dedicated efforts by Defenders of Wildlife’s science, policy and government relations experts.
Prior to the House vote, dedicated wildlife advocates responded to Defenders’ call for action, sending more than 30,000 messages to their members of Congress in support of the CLEAR Act. These efforts were crucial in helping move this critical legislation forward.
“Today the House of Representatives voted to start reforming the offshore drilling industry and to protect and restore coastal communities, wetlands and wildlife and help prevent the next offshore oil disaster,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife. “The CLEAR Act overhauls the system that failed to prevent the BP disaster. And in securing critically needed funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the bill reinvests in our nation’s public lands and waters.”
Highlights of the CLEAR Act
The Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act, sponsored by Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) improves oversight of offshore oil and gas development. The Gulf oil disaster is only the most recent reminder of the dangers of unfettered exploitation of our lands and waters by oil and gas companies. The CLEAR Act strengthens the government’s ability to regulate the federal offshore leasing program by changing the structure of the agency responsible for oversight. The result will be to:
- Avoid clear conflicts of interest
- Enhance the role of science and independent review
- Establish mandatory safety and environmental management standards
How did YOUR representative vote?
Did your member of Congress side with wildlife and the environment or with Big Oil’s bottom line? Check the roll call and then send a message of thanks to those who voted for responsible management of drilling policies or disappointment to those who put their short-term political interests ahead of the country’s future.
The Act also fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Regardless of who is to blame for an oil spill, wildlife and their habitat always pay a heavy price for the damage. Established in 1965, the LWCF authorizes a portion of the money raised from offshore oil and gas leases to be set aside for state and local conservation and habitat restoration. Defenders has long championed full and dedicated funding for the LWCF. Unfortunately, not only has the LWCF been drastically under-funded for years, but the fund has been continually raided for other pet projects. The CLEAR Act changes all that, allocating $900 million annually to the fund—a huge victory for wildlife.
Finally, for the first time ever, the CLEAR Act allows America’s national wildlife refuges to collect and retain funds for damages from the spill of any contaminant.
What’s next for the CLEAR Act?
We’re not done yet! The Senate is now considering its own version of the CLEAR Act—the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Accountability Act—and we will continue to fight to ensure this critical legislation is finally passed. You can help!
As we transition to a more sustainable energy economy, our nation must protect our sensitive wildlife and treasured natural lands.