New push for gulf oil drilling in Congress
A pair of U.S. senators have introduced a bill aimed at opening up oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, adding a new layer to the long-running controversy. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson quickly denounced it as an "oil industry windfall plan."
The bill, S 1517, was sponsored by Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski and Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu. It seeks to significantly reduce a current no-drill zone and expand leases in the Destin Dome area.
The stated purpose is to "enhance domestic energy security by increasing production from fossil-based resources in the outer Continental Shelf in an economically and environmentally responsible manner."
The proposal mirrors an amendment offered recently by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota. A 2006 law keeps oil rigs 230 miles off Tampa Bay and 125 miles off the Florida Panhandle. The new bill and Dorgan's amendment would bring Panhandle rigs within 45 miles of shore.
"This isn't even thinly veiled," Nelson said in a statement. "It's an oil industry windfall plan. And it's government's plan to boost its own revenues in tough economic times. But even in the toughest of times, there are just some things states shouldn't sell, like, Florida's economy and environment."