Oil spill prompts offshore drilling review

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, shown after a Senate vote Dec. 21, 2009. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
1 of 5 | Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, shown after a Senate vote Dec. 21, 2009. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) -- Offshore drilling language in a climate and energy bill will get "a second look" because of the big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Sen. Joe Lieberman said.

Lieberman, Ind-Conn., and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the bill's co-authors, are being pressured by some coastal state Democrats and environmentalists to either revise or drop the drilling language, The Hill reported Friday.


"It is getting a second look," Lieberman said. "The rest of the bill is pretty much wrapped up."

Kerry and Lieberman said they hope to proffer the bill next week, but did not provide specifics of what changes may be made.

Lieberman said the bill still would promote development by offering states with drilling in newly opened areas off their coasts a share of revenue from leases and royalties. It also would give states the ability to block leasing within 75 miles of their shores.

"I think the bill, when it reaches the floor, will still have a section that will call for development of domestic energy resources as we transition to a clean energy economy," Lieberman said. "And it will have a buffer zone that we have been talking about and state revenue-sharing."


The gulf spill, caused by an April 20 oil rig explosion, has put about 5,000 barrels of oil into the water each day. It has given lawmakers opposed to drilling some new-found clout to seek protections and blast White House plans to allow drilling in once-restricted areas.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said he thought progress was being made on concerns he and Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, both D-N.J., and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., have expressed.

"I am hopeful that we will have protections in the bill against the type of drilling that could affect the Maryland coast," Cardin told The Hill.

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