1994 Scorecard Vote
America's offshore waters include some of Earth's richest and most productive marine environments. However, these sensitive ecosystems and nearby coastlines are threatened by pollution from offshore drilling for oil and gas.
Government policies have helped promote offshore drilling by providing the oil industry with financial incentives and lax environmental controls. For example, leases on potentially oil-rich public lands offshore are sold for relatively low prices. At the same time, the industry has avoided spending billions of dollars on cleaning up its massive pollution problems because it has received exemptions from a number of major environmental laws.
In May, Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA) sought to expand federal efforts to bankroll offshore oil and gas drilling even further. On the Senate floor, he offered a bill -- the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Deep Water Royalty Relief Act (S. 318) -- as an amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Johnston amendment would have given the Secretary of Interior the power to allow oil companies to suspend the royalty payments that they must make on productive offshore drilling sites until the site had produced enough income to repay their initial capital investment. The amendment covered leases in the Gulf of Mexico and much of offshore Alaska, two of the nation's major offshore drilling regions.
Besides promoting more leasing and drilling in sensitive offshore areas, the Johnston amendment would have provided an economic windfall to the oil industry -- a windfall paid for by American taxpayers.
On May 18, 1994, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) offered a motion to table (kill) the Johnston amendment. The Senate agreed to the motion by a vote of 65 - 34. YES is the pro-environment vote.