US House Passes Bill Speeding Up Alaska Oil Lease Sales

The U.S. House passed a bill this morning that would replace President Barack Obama’s outer continental shelf drilling plan. The bill would speed up existing lease sales in Alaska.

The plan is mired in politics. It’s officially titled the Congressional Replacement of President Obama’s Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan.

It passed the House mostly along party lines, though 25 Democrats joined most of the Republicans voting in the affirmative. Representative Don Young supported the measure.

The plan speeds up lease sales in the state by years. The federal government would hold lease sales next year for drilling rights in Cook Inlet and the Chuckchi Sea. That’s three years earlier than currently scheduled.  Another sale for the Beaufort Sea would take place in 2014, with more down the line.

Democrats are objecting to the bill because, they say, many of the expedited leases won’t undergo necessary environmental review.

The vote immediately preceded one that would have maintained the president’s schedule. As Republicans planned – that went down –nearly two-dozen Democrats voted against it.

The House GOP is spending the week drawing sharp contrasts between the two parties, forcing members on the record: Do they stand with the president or not?