Offshore drilling expansion
U.S. Sens. David Vitter, R-La., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., filed new legislation to expand offshore oil-and-gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
The bill is a response to President Barack Obama’s five-year plan for offshore drilling that was released last month. Obama’s plan focuses on Outer Continental Shelf drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and, eventually, off Alaska’s coast.
Obama is pushing for new surveying data and studies before moving ahead with drilling off the Atlantic coast.
Vitter wants to return to the increased offshore drilling plans originally proposed under former President George W. Bush.
“Obama’s five-year lease plan for offshore production is only half of what the previous plan was moving us in the complete wrong direction of where our energy production should be headed,” Vitter said in the announcement.
The bill also proposed expediting drilling plans for the eastern Gulf and Alaska.
Cassidy supports oil
Speaking of oil, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, wrote a “Don’t Hate on Oil Companies” column this past week in The Washington Times.
Cassidy’s column tried to warn the public about President Barack Obama arguing to “make the oil companies pay their fair share.”
“At a time when businesses can choose to locate almost anywhere in the world, development of domestic energy resources, by definition, creates jobs right here at home,” Cassidy wrote of the Republican push for more domestic drilling. “The job-creation potential of the energy sector, however, is not limited to those in oil and gas extraction. It also means more pipeline construction and the expansion of petrochemical plants, which create both construction jobs and permanent manufacturing jobs.”
Repealing tax breaks for oil companies would put them at an unfair disadvantage and wrongly single them out, he contended.
Cassidy health care meeting
Apart from writing columns in Washington, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, is hosting a town hall meeting to discuss health care Monday.
The town hall is at 6 p.m. Monday in the auditorium of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, 5000 Hennessy Blvd. in Baton Rouge.
Cassidy is expected to address the Supreme Court ruling maintaining the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care plan. He will also discuss House GOP efforts to repeal the plan.
Cassidy also is planning to take questions from the audience during the two-hour, public event.
Boustany wants rice protections
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, touted that the U.S. House version of the federal farm bill includes more protections for Louisiana rice farmers than the one approved in the U.S. Senate.
The issue for Louisiana’s nearly 2,000 rice farmers is that federal direct payments and price-control funds, called countercyclical payments, were axed in the Senate bill in favor of adding more money to crop insurance programs. But rice is seen as a stable crop and does not need to rely on crop insurance unlike corn and soybeans.
U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and David Vitter, R-La., had hoped to maintain countercyclical payments that would assist commodities like rice more, but the effort failed in the Senate. Such measures would serve as safety nets for farmers when the prices for crops like rice are low. Landrieu and Vitter both voted against it.
But the House bill that passed the U.S. House Agriculture Committee this past week includes the option for price-loss insurance coverage that would better support such industries like rice farming.
“This bill includes a price and revenue based option I supported to cover the diversity of our South Louisiana agricultural community,” Boustany stated. “In addition, the no-cost sugar program is reauthorized for an additional 5 years. Farmers of south Louisiana’s major crops such as sugar, rice, and soybean are winners because of this bill. I look forward to voting in favor of this bill on the House floor.”
However, the House bill includes more budget cuts than the Senate bill, including major cuts into federal food stamp programs.
Compiled by Jordan Blum, chief of The Advocate’s Washington bureau. His email address is email@example.com.