The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 13- 10 today in favor of an amendment to expand drilling, as part of its debate over pending energy legislation.
Former President George W. Bush removed a presidential moratorium on offshore drilling last year, and Congress let a ban expire after oil prices reached a record $147.27 a barrel. The amendment, proposed today by Senator Byron Dorgan, alters a remaining ban on drilling from 2006 legislation that protected portions of the gulf.
“That portion of the eastern gulf that is not open, with a buffer zone of 45 miles, should be available for drilling for oil and natural gas,” said Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat. The drilling area includes the Destin Dome, an area off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, which may hold 2.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the Energy Department.
The drilling provision is one of several amendments that have been considered during the weeks the committee has spent debating energy legislation that would, among other things, require a portion of electricity to come from renewable resources and set new energy efficiency standards.