Offshore Drilling: Senate passes bill to drill 8.3 million acres in Gulf

In the latest move to offset (or at least appear to offset) high energy prices by handing control of public resources over to private industry, the Senate has voted to open 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas exploration. The upside is that this bill would ban drilling within 125 miles of the Florida panhandle and within 230 miles of the state's west coast until 2022, and would also earmark 12.5 percent of revenues to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Overall, it is far less aggressive than the House version, which would totally scrap a 25-year-long nationwide moratorium on new offshore drilling from Alaska to the East Coast. Reconciling the two versions will be a challenge, if not a fight, as Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson vowed to filibuster the final bill if it mirrors the House plan, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has said he would rally Democrats to support such a move
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/politics/15174175.htm
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2006/2006-08-01-10.asp