The House of Representatives recently voted to lift a 25-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling. The bill (H.R. 4761), sponsored by Representative Richard Pombo, R-Calif. and Representative Bobby Jindal, R-La., passed by a margin of 232-187.
The measure would remove all bans on new offshore oil and gas drilling more than 100 miles from shore. For areas between 50 and 100 miles from shore, leasing would be permitted unless the coastal state specifically blocks it. Areas within 50 miles would remain protected unless a state opts out of protection.
"My bill provides incentives for more domestic production, allows states to have more control over energy activity off their coasts, and encourages production from new energy sources," Jindal said. "My bill helps to lower energy costs, begins to reduce our country's dependence on foreign sources, and allows states to share in the benefits from energy production."
Many representatives from coastal states who had opposed new offshore drilling supported the measure because of a new revenue-sharing provision that would funnel money to their states.
The Senate is unlikely to take up this bill, but Senate lawmakers have been considering a more limited bill that would open new areas of the Gulf of Mexico within U.S. waters to oil and gas drilling.