The First Committee Markup of 2018 is Focused on a Republican Oil and Gas Giveaway Bill

Washington, D.C. – House Republicans are launching into the new year by focusing their first Committee markup of 2018 on a Republican bill that would make it easier for oil and gas companies to expedite industrial drilling projects in our oceans. The Streamlining Environmental Approvals or SEA Act (H.R. 3133) would gut core provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to expedite seismic airgun blasting and other activities in oceans that can harm marine mammals.

“Republicans are taking a break from throwing out basic human rights, and have moved on to attacking whales, dolphins and other marine mammals,” Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said ahead of the markup. “This bill is even more dangerous now that the Trump administration is proposing to open up all our coasts to offshore drilling. The bill puts more than 100 species of marine mammals at risk, ignores coastal communities’ voices that have expressed opposition to expanded drilling, and fails to address problems in ecosystems which are still recovering from past oil spills. The SEA Act is a reckless bill and if Republicans cared about our oceans, they’d see that.”

The SEA act would eliminate fundamental safeguards of the MMPA. It would:

  • Speed up the issuance of take permits and automatically approve permits if the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) misses a series of arbitrary deadlines.
  • Allow more harm to marine mammals by removing requirements that allowable actions are limited to “small numbers” of a species or population and with the “least practicable impact” and eliminate the requirement that permits are restricted to a specific geographic region.
  • Limit NOAA’s authority to require mitigation from the applicant if mammals are injured or killed during testing and limit requirements for monitoring the impacts after the activity has taken place.
  • Undermine Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for any listed marine mammals by allowing this bill’s inadequate permitting process as a substitute for authorizing take and Section 7 consultation under the ESA.

Members will also be voting on five federal lands bills that are expected to be considered by unanimous consent.

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