House approves offshore drilling bill

| 6/30/2006

With oil prices surging above $73 a barrel, the push to explore and develop new sources of domestic oil continues.

To that end, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday, June 29, that, if passed by the Senate and signed into law, would repeal a 25-year-old ban on offshore drilling, and would allow energy companies to tap natural gas and oil beneath waters from New England to Alaska, the Associated Press reported.

The bill also contains a provision that would transfer billions of dollars in federal revenue to coastal states.

Congressional Quarterly reported that the bill would replace the existing ban on coastal drilling with a ban on drilling within 50 miles of the coast. States would have the option to extend that limit out 100 miles or allow drilling within 50 miles if they choose.

In addition, the bill would give Florida extra protection, adding a 100-mile ban in the north and a 200-mile ban in the southern part of the state.

The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration.