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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate Energy Committee: Drill baby drill!

The Senate Energy Committee just approved an amendment to allow oil and gas drilling just 45 miles off Florida's West Coast, and even closer in the "Destin Dome" area of the Gulf of Mexico, off the Panhandle.

The amendment, which passed 13 to 10, was sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. It was also supported by the committee's chairman, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and stands a good chance of being included in a broader energy bill expected to clear the committee as soon as Thursday.

After that, however, the bill is likely to face strong opposition. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., already has threatened to filibuster the bill, and it is not clear that Senate leaders would jeopardize a major bill on renewable energy by tacking on the off-shore drilling provision, which would find tough surfing in the House.

The eastern Gulf of Mexico is off limits to drilling through 2022 thanks to a 2006 compromise sponsored by Nelson and Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla. The amendment the committee passed today would essentially blow up that compromise.


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 6:04pm]


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