Senate Leaders Offer Compromise on Offshore Drilling

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Last week the Senate majority proposed legislation continuing an offshore drilling moratorium for the Gulf of Mexico that has been in effect for 25 years, but allowing some oil and gas drilling to take place across an 8 million acre swath of open ocean 100 miles off the coast of Florida. Meanwhile, a House bill passed last month calls for overturning the moratorium entirely, potentially opening up tens of millions of additional coastal acres off the Gulf of Mexico to resource extraction. If the Senate majority can push its bill through despite some Democratic opposition, and then reach a compromise agreement with House leadership, new offshore oil and natural gas rigs could be up and running within a matter of months.

Most environmentalists favor no additional drilling whatsoever, and as such are incensed by the so-called “compromise” offered by the Senate majority. “No matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, it’s still a pig,” says Tiernan Sittenfeld of the nonprofit League of Conservation Voters.

“Any offshore drilling bill is a step in the wrong direction,” says the Sierra Club’s Athan Manuel. “The deal announced today could get much worse when the Senate bill is reconciled with the House drilling bill. In addition to opening millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico, the House bill puts the entire Atlantic and Pacific coasts on the chopping block.”