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Drilling bill puts Sen. Webb, Dems at odds

June 20, 2008 at 1:28 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, June 20 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Jim Webb's stance on his state's ability to drill for gas offshore has distanced him from many other Democrats on the issue, political observers say.

Webb and fellow Virginia Sen. John Warner, a Republican, submitted legislation that would give Virginia the right to explore for natural gas off its coast.

Webb's staff said his position on the issue is in agreement with the state's two other leading Democrats, Gov. Tim Kaine and ex-Gov. Mark Warner, now U.S. Senate candidate, The Hill reported.

Webb's sponsorship, however, is seen as stepping back from Democrats and their party's likely presidential standard-bearer, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, aligning more with presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Washington publication said.

The issue arose as Webb's name was floated as a possible running mate for Obama.

McCain and President George Bush called for giving states the right to conduct offshore energy explorations on the outer continental shelf. Democrats oppose the move, citing environmental concerns among their reasons.

"The legislation offers a preliminary step toward exploration and development of one of our domestic energy sources," Webb told The Hill. "In order to address our nations energy crisis, all options need to be on the table."

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