What: All Issues : Environment : Oceanic Conservation : S Con Res 70. (Fiscal 2009 budget resolution) Alexander of Tennessee amendment that would allow drilling for natural gas off the coast of Virginia/On agreeing to the amendment
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S Con Res 70. (Fiscal 2009 budget resolution) Alexander of Tennessee amendment that would allow drilling for natural gas off the coast of Virginia/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 56     Mar 13, 2008
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This vote was on an amendment by Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., that would allow drilling off the coast of Virginia, under the Outer Continental Shelf.  Drilling for natural gas and oil is mostly prohibited off the coastal waters of the United States, with some exceptions.  The amendment also would adjust the budget resolution to allow for future legislation to encourage consumers to upgrade household items to those that are more energy efficient, including replacing wood stoves and installing electricity meters.  The amendment also would encourage the capture and storage of carbon dioxide emissions from coal projects and oil and natural gas resources beneath the Outer Continental Shelf.

The amendment was offered to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress’ budget priorities in fiscal 2009. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.

“The estimates are that this year $400 billion American dollars are going overseas to buy oil. This amendment has some conservation measures in it, but it also allows us to proceed with the Department of Interior to develop oil from oil shale in the western part of the United States. It allows Virginia, which has asked to do it, to explore for natural gas off the coastline of Virginia,” Alexander said.

Bill Nelson, D-Fla., offered a competing amendment immediately prior that contained the same conservation measures contained in Alexander’s amendment, but without the permission to drill off the coast of Virginia.  Nelson’s amendment was adopted (see vote description of roll call 55)

“The Alexander amendment takes away the sensible moratorium, which Congress just adopted and the President signed 3 months ago, which prevents commercial oil shale leasing.  It further starts the process of drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf, which you just protected by adopting my amendment. By doing what Senator Alexander said, the camel’s nose is under the tent to start drilling off of Virginia,” Nelson said.

By a vote of 47-51, the amendment was rejected.  All but four Democrats present voted against the amendment (Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Tim Johnson of South Dakota).  Of Republicans present, all but five voted for the amendment.  The end result is that the bill went forward without language that would have allowed natural gas drilling off the coast of Virginia.

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