A comprehensive energy bill won’t move out of committee until a Department of Defense (DOD) report on how expanded offshore drilling will affect military training is released, Politico reported Friday.
GOP Rep. Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, will not push the bill through committee until the Pentagon determines how increased oil activity off the Florida coast will affect “mission compatibility.” The energy bill is “being held up,” Bishop said.
The DOD uses the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico to conduct training exercises for single units, entire fleets and joint service drills. The department has interfered with administration and congressional plans for the area before.
In 2017, the Pentagon recommended a drilling ban on the eastern Gulf, due to expire in 2022, remain in place. In 2016, the Obama administration was forced to rework a plan to open the southern Atlantic Coast to offshore drilling after the Pentagon provided a map identifying “areas where the [Defense’s] offshore readiness activities are not compatible, partially compatible or minimally impacted by oil and gas activities,” a DOD spokesman said at the time.
Two Florida congressmen pushed Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in January to charge for a permanent moratorium on drilling in the eastern Gulf through Congress. Ryan agreed, according to Politico.
“There is a governmental funding bill that has to be passed later this month,” Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz said at the time. “[Florida GOP Rep.] Francis Rooney and I had a conversation about this with Speaker Ryan, who gave Rooney and I a commitment that eastern Gulf moratorium language will be in the must-pass bill.”
Gaetz and Rooney are using the DOD recommendation to push the moratorium in the interests of national security.
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