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House Subcommittee Keeps Annual Drilling Ban in Spending Bill

A House appropriations subcommittee last Thursday voted out a $25.9 billion spending bill for fiscal 2007 that maintains the 25-year-old congressional ban on oil and natural gas drilling on much of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

Rep. John Peterson (R-PA), a member of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies' Appropriations Subcommittee, did not seek to repeal the congressional ban at the subcommittee level, as many had expected him to do.

"Rep. Peterson has been taking the temperature of his colleagues over the past few weeks. He decided that the subcommittee level was not the most propitious time" to force a vote on repeal of the annual moratorium on oil and gas drilling off the West and East Coasts and in parts of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, said Peterson spokesman Chris Tucker.

He did not rule out the possibility that Peterson may try to remove the drilling ban when the House Appropriations Committee meets on Wednesday (May 10) to consider the Interior and related agencies' spending bill.

An advocate of offshore gas drilling, Peterson also has offered legislation that seeks to lift the congressional and presidential bans to allow natural gas drilling for 20 miles offshore (HR 4318). The bill currently has 163 co-sponsors, said Tucker, adding that the measure would need the support of 218 lawmakers to clear the House.

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