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Oil lobby to fight Graham over offshore drilling

The country's major oil companies will urge President Bush to veto his own national energy strategy if the final version includes amendments by Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., to restrict their right to drill off Florida's coast.

Charles DiBona, president of the American Petroleum Institute (API), said Wednesday that oil interests will try to defeat Graham's amendments on the floor of the Senate when debate on the energy bill resumes next week.

If that fails, the oil lobby will try to get senators to filibuster the amendments, said DiBona.

"I know there are some members of API who would almost certainly urge a veto if a filibuster fails," DiBona told reporters. "There are not enough benefits in the remainder of the bill to justify something that essentially tells oil companies, "You are no longer permitted to drill in the United States.'

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Graham's proposed restrictions would include strengthening the right of governors to oppose offshore drilling decisions and requiring federal officials to pay greater heed to environmental questions in deciding whether to issue leases.

Aides said Graham also might seek to establish a 100-mile-wide "buffer zone" around Florida in which drilling would be prohibited.

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