The House could learn a lesson if it passes the CLEAR Act

As soon as this Friday, the United States House of Representatives will vote on an oil spill response bill to reform offshore drilling practices. H.R. 3534, the Consolidated Land, Energy and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act, also contains a two new protections for onshore oil and gas drilling.

The disaster in the Gulf has shown that oil and gas operators need stringent regulations to ensure the environment is protected. The CLEAR Act addresses these problems by creating new safety standards, higher liability limits, and by closing the revolving door between government and the oil and gas industry. 

Along with improving regulations offshore, we also need to bring more balanced energy development onshore to better protect our lands, water, and wildlife from drilling impacts. The CLEAR Act includes several critical provisions which bring better balance to onshore energy development, including:

  • Eliminating the oil and gas construction loophole in the Clean Water Act: In 2005, the oil and gas industry was exempted from the Clean Water Act protections during the construction of oil and gas drilling well pads. This puts our rivers and streams at risk to pollution from drilling fluids, oil, and sediment. The CLEAR Act would eliminate this exemption.
  • Eliminating shortcuts and ensure science-based review at drill sites: In 2005, the oil and gas industry was granted exemptions from review of public health and environmental impacts at drilling sites under a serious of broad exemptions known as categorical exclusions. The CLEAR Act would eliminate these exemptions and help ensure science-based review and decisions during the permitting process.

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