Democrats Broaden Offshore Drilling Plan

September 10, 2008 07:00 PM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

States would still have a say

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

House Democrats broaden drilling plan. House Democratic leaders are broadening the number of coastal areas that could be opened to oil and natural gas production via an energy package they are formulating.

The initial plan signaled this week would have limited the ability to just four coastal states, but House Democratic leaders have expanded it to open more federal waters to oil and natural gas production. Indications are the plan would now allow all coastal states the chance to decide whether they want to allow drilling for oil and natural as close as 50 miles from their shores. Under the plan, all federal waters beyond 100 miles from shore would be opened for drilling without the need for state approval. However, contacts advise the current package would not alter a 2006 agreement limiting drilling in the area known as Lease 191 in the eastern Gulf of Mexico until 2022.

Contacts familiar with the behind-closed-door session where details of the plan were unveiled Wednesday to House Democrats signaled those members could be herd shouting "drill, drill" during that meeting.

Another shift in the package is that a provision relative to oil market speculation has been pulled from the bill and will be brought up on a separate vote. Democratic leaders today are expected to announce when the larger energy package will be bought to the floor, most likely sometime next week and it is expected to be under a rule which would allow Republicans to have a vote on their own plan.

"We have our bill that would provide new income for conservation, more money for renewables, clean coal and nuclear power, and much more American oil offshore that can be produced in an environmentally sensitive manner with royalties going to speed up the development of renewables. It's ready, and we want on a vote on it Friday," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said.

Comments: The shift by Democratic leaders reflects successful pressure by a number of groups -- Blue-Dog and oil-patch Democrats, Republicans and the White House. And even if the House were to approve the package, it still faces an uncertain future in the Senate.


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

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