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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Offshore drilling revived by ANWR vote?

The Associated Press reports today that oil companies are showing renewed interest in drilling for oil and gas off the nation's coasts, in response to the Senate's March 16 vote to pursue oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

Some energy producers now feel they have a unique opportunity to relax or eliminate offshore protections. "Part of the solution has to be opening more access," said Duane Radtke of Dominion Resources Inc., based in Virginia.

Former President George H. W. Bush in 1990 placed a 10-year drilling moratorium on most offshore U.S. acreage. Former President Bill Clinton in 1998 extended the moratorium until 2012.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., introduced legislation on Wednesday that would allow just that. It would give governors the power to override federal drilling bans in coastal waters along their states. It would also give them 50 percent of any revenue generated, a major carrot for many cash-strapped states.

In the House, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., said he plans to introduce companion legislation modeled on Alexander's. Pombo chairs the House Resources Committee.

"We embrace this because it is very much thinking outside the box," said Dave Schryver of the American Public Gas Association.

How he came to that conclusion is anybody's guess. Sounds like the same old drill-and-drain energy policy to me.

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