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Republicans Criticize Melancon Drilling Moratorium Amendment

An amendment allowing companies to bypass the Obama administration’s deepwater drilling ban doesn’t go far enough for Republicans. Attached to the House oil spill response bill last week, the provision would green-light deepwater drilling for companies that meet certain safety requirements.

Washington Rep. Doc Hastings, ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, is circulating a document that downplays the impact of the amendment, which was authored by Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.).

Hastings’ document notes that Melancon’s amendment leaves the final say on whether a company can bypass the drilling moratorium to the Secretary of the Interior. “In addition, the Melancon amendment would write into law dangerous new language explicating granting authority to the Interior Secretary to impose further moratoria,” Hastings argues. Hastings also says that the amendment was changed from its original form, which did not include the language giving the final decision to the Interior Department.

This change, Hastings says, raises questions: “Why was the amendment changed? Did Rep. Melancon independently rewrite his amendment and add this language? Did Secretary Salazar or the Obama Administration ask for the change? Did Speaker Pelosi and House Democrat leaders suggest or direct that the amendment be changed? Why was this harmful rewrite made at the last minute?”

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