Offshore Drilling Is Coming to a Vote

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Democrats to Offer a Mix of Proposals

Washington Post Staff Writer 
Sunday, September 14, 2008; Page A04


Congressional Democrats, balancing political reality against a policy they have long opposed, are on the cusp of approving legislation that would open the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to oil drilling as close as 50 miles offshore.

With votes scheduled this week in the House and Senate, Democrats have essentially given up defending the current ban on drilling within 200 miles offshore along both coasts. Instead, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), they are offering a mix of proposals that would allow drilling, with the waters off Massachusetts, Virginia and Georgia most likely to be the first affected.

Environmentalists and industry analysts disagree over the impact the various legislative proposals would have on oil production, with industry experts contending that the most precious reserves still would be off-limits. But both sides agree that -- because of the politics of $4-a-gallon gasoline this summer and a pending legislative deadline -- the nearly 40-year drilling ban is in jeopardy.

"It's in deep, deep trouble. I won't pronounce it dead, but it's in deep trouble," said Warner Chabot, a vice president of the Ocean Conservancy, an environmental group opposed to drilling.

Read the rest of this piece at The Washington Post


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