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06/10/2009

Senate Energy Bill Markup Expands Eastern Gulf Drilling

Yesterday, during the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee markup of a broad energy bill, the committee voted to allow leasing as close as 45 miles to Florida's coast.  The vote was 13-10 in favor of an amendment by Senator Dorgan (N-ND) that would do away with existing long-term protections for Florida's Gulf Coast and allow leasing as near as 45 miles from all of Florida's Panhandle and Gulf beaches.  It would also open up an area known as Destin Dome, a region merely 25 miles off the coast of Pensacola.  The oil and gas title marked up yesterday will next go to the Senate floor as part of a broader energy bill.

The committee did, however, reject an amendment by Senator Landrieu (D-LA) that would have provided states with offshore production in adjacent federal waters a share of the revenue.  It also rejected an amendment by Senator Murkowski (R-AK) that would have opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge via direction drilling that would technically occur outside of the refuge's borders.  The markup will continue on Thursday where we expect amendments pertaining to oil shale as well as split estate leasing issues.

This is only the beginning of the fight and should serve as a reminder that we still have much work to do when it comes to convincing the public and members of Congress that drilling is not the answer.  We cannot continue to rely on dirty, climate-changing fuels that threaten our coastal environments and livelihoods.  We must shift the discourse and the economy toward clean, renewable energy.

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