Jessie ----
by on January 23, 2019
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Democrats in the senate are questioning the legal basis of the Trump administration’s move to continue work on its five-year offshore drilling plan during the partial federal government shutdown.
Tuesday a letter was sent to David Bernhardt, the Department of Interior’s acting secretary, and Walter Cruickshank, acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), in which these Demonrats asked them to address why the BOEM’s contingency plan was updated in January to allow 40 employees to work on the offshore leasing program.
They specifically wanted to know what legal grounds the department changed its treatment of offshore oil and gas activities between Dec. 22, when the shutdown began, and January, when it recalled the employees. The letter requested a response by Feb. 1.
This letter, which was signed by 14 Democrats, asked that while the oil industry might view a delay in the approval of new offshore drilling as an emergency, the American people deserve regulators who prioritize safety and environmental protection over political expediency and the wishes of moneyed special interests.
Here's the 14 who signed the letter:
Democratic Senators Robert Menendez, Cory Booker, Edward Markey, Richard Blumenthal, Jack Reed, Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown, Patrick Leahy, Ben Cardin, Dianne Feinstein, Jeanne Shaheen and Tom Carper and an independent, Bernie Sanders.
As of Wednesday, this is the longest goverment shutdown in history, which has reached 33 days. The Department of Interior, which oversees energy development on federal lands and waters, is among the departments included in the shutdown. The BOEM falls under the Interior Department.
Demonrats are opposed to any offshore oil and gas development in the United States, regardless of whether or not we are experiencing a partial government shutdown.
Also besides tapping employees to work on the offshore drilling program, the BOEM temporarily recalled some furloughed workers to prepare an upcoming Gulf of Mexico oil lease sale using funds left over from last year, according to a department document.
Meanwhile Thursday, Democrats plan to hold a forum of environmentalists and former policymakers on the topic.
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