The U.S. Senate is debating whether to open a large part of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and natural gas drilling, and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s against it.

“I certainly favor increasing domestic oil and gas production…but this is a seriously flawed bill,” Harkin says. “It gives 37.5 percent of the revenue from the new drilling to four…Gulf States despite the fact that the drilling will take place far beyond their borders.”

Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are the states which would benefit from that provision. Harkin, who is a Democrat, says it would reverse long-established federal law which stipulates that 100 percent of royalties from drilling beyond a state’s shores go to the U.S. treasury. “We could be using this money to fund research and development of renewable energy,” Harkin says. “But instead of using the funds in a way that would help our entire nation’s energy future, this bill would allow a handfull of states to grab on to oil and gas proceeds that rightfully belong to all Americans.”

Harkin is among Senators who’ve tried to tack amendments onto the bill which would lead to a dramatic increase in the amount of ethanol and biodiesel produced in the U.S., as well as a proposal which would increase the federal standards for “fuel economy” in American-made cars and trucks. “Always remember it’s still much cheaper to save a barrel of oil than it is to go out and produce it,” Harkin says. According to Harkin, Americans haven’t even begun to “scratch the surface” when it comes to energy conservation.

The bill being debated in the Senate faces a dim future and may not be voted upon before Senators leave for their August recess.