Vote Notes: The Coastal Economies Protection Act
Under the category of catch up on a Monday here in Washington, I wanted to let you know I introduced the Coastal Economies Protection Act on Friday. It came in reaction to the president's decision that same day to lift the ban on drilling along the Atlantic, and the bill would suspend oil exploration activities off the East Coast for the next ten years.
There have been a series of moratoriums on Atlantic drilling that have been put into effect by both Republican and Democrat...ic presidents. They were in place because of the very strongly divided beliefs of so many along the coast on whether or not drilling fit with local control, tourism and environmental risk weighed against what most engineers suspect would be at most a four month supply of oil reserves.
The issue for me has ultimately always been about local control. If you really believe that the government most local generally governs best, then locals should indeed have some degree of authority in determining what happens in their backyard. This has never been the case on this drilling matter. Washington would decide what happens in the waters beyond the three-mile mark - which happens to be well in sight of Hilton Head, Folly Beach, or the Isle of Palms. None of us as locals would have any say in whether or not we look to an unobstructed ocean horizon or one with platforms a little more than 15,000 feet off our coast.
More to the point, the issue has never been about what was or wasn’t offshore - but rather the infrastructure onshore necessary to support offshore operations. This was always the tipping point for me in this debate. If industrial capacity is necessitated in Port Royal or Calabogie Sounds to support what’s happening offshore, shouldn’t people who live close by have a hand in indeed determining the way their neighborhood develops?
This is federalism...a thought central to conservative philosophy...and viewed as critical by the Founding Fathers to hold back a federal government’s bias to encroaching on the decision making of state and local governments. For those of us leery of unilateral control by Washington, we should be leery of this one - regardless of one’s views on oil and offshore.