Thursday, July 13, 2006

Senate passes a drilling bill.

Bidness: I have no hope of this coming together with the House and something passes where more domestic drilling will start up soon. Meantime, China and India are getting ready to drill 50 miles off of Florida thanks to Cuba.

"Florida's two senators had been pushing a plan that would create a 150-mile buffer around the state and limit drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to 744,000 acres. But that idea received little support. The proposal announced Wednesday builds on a measure pushed by Domenici and passed his energy committee in March. The Senate plan opens up 8 million acres, including 1.6 million in resource-rich Lease Sale 181. A spokeswoman for the senate energy committee said the newly opened area would produce an estimated 1.25 billion barrels of oil and 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Martinez, a Republican, hailed the compromise as a success. "I am thrilled and delighted that we got 125 miles for the people and Florida. It's a huge victory," Martinez said. As for the protections expiring in 2022, Martinez said he was not worried. "I am very hopeful with America's ingenuity and America's know-how, and our commitment to less dependence on foreign sources of energy, that we will become less dependent on fossil fuels," he said. "I am very hopeful by that year, this won't even be an issue." Gov. Jeb Bush also offered his support, praising Martinez for negotiating the best deal he could for Florida. He also expressed hope that the Senate and House would continue working to protect Florida's beaches from offshore drilling. The Senate agreement also paves the way for other Gulf Coast states to share in federal revenue produced by the rigs if they do decide to allow drilling. Louisiana could receive hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade through revenue-sharing, according to Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana. Environmentalists, who fought passage of the House bill, also said they were disappointed in Martinez and in the measure. "It looks as if Sen. Martinez has decided to side with his leadership in the Senate and other pro-drilling senators rather than with the interests of Florida," said Mark Ferrulo, director of the Florida Public Interest Research Group. Ferrulo is concerned that oil and natural gas rigs could lead to environmental accidents that could tar Florida's shore. A spokesman for Rep. Clay Shaw, who heads the Florida delegation on the House side, said the Fort Lauderdale Republican did not support the plan."

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