2003 Scorecard Vote
To protect America's sensitive coastal areas from oil and gas drilling and development, Congress, since 1982, has included language in Interior appropriations bills to prevent the Interior Department from conducting leasing, pre-leasing and related activities on the Outer Continental Shelf. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush placed a ten-year moratorium on new oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf. President Clinton subsequently extended this moratorium to 2012, and President George W. Bush included the traditional legislative moratorium language in his 2004 budget request.
However, the Senate energy bill (S.14) and House energy bill (H.R. 6) originally included language that would undermine this protection. The language required the Interior Department to inventory the potential oil and gas resources of the entire Outer Continental Shelf, including areas under moratorium, using seismic surveys, sediment sampling, and other exploration technologies that damage sea life and ocean habitat. Seismic surveys, in particular, have been shown to have severe impacts on populations of fish as well as gray, sperm, beaked and bowhead whales.
During Senate consideration of the energy bill, Senators Bob Graham (D-FL) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) offered an amendment to strike the off-shore inventory language from the Senate bill. On June 12, 2003, the Senate rejected the Graham-Feinstein amendment by a 44-54 vote (Senate roll call vote 221). YES is the pro-environment vote. Despite the defeat of this amendment, the energy legislation that eventually emerged from the Senate did not include a coastal inventory provision. And while energy bill conferees later reinserted an inventory provision into the draft conference report, the House voted in October to instruct conferees to remove the provision (House vote 13). The provision is not in the final House-Senate energy conference report.