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House Bill Seeks Ban on Leasing in Federal Waters Offshore California

Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) has introduced legislation to reinstitute the ban on oil and natural gas leasing in the federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) off the coast of California.

The bill (HR 1906), the "California Ocean and Coastal Protection Act," was co-sponsored by 28 lawmakers, all from California, and has been forwarded to the House Natural Resources Committee for consideration.

The Capps legislation comes on the heels of another bill offered by six House Democrats to reinstitute the moratorium on oil and gas leasing in federal waters off the Mid-Atlantic and North Atlantic coastlines (see NGI, April 6).

That measure also was referred to the House Natural Resources Committee. But it's unclear whether either bill will see any major action, given that House leadership has signaled that it will not pursue the reimposition of the congressional moratorium, which was lifted last October (see NGI, Oct. 6, 2008).

The reprieve from the nearly 30-year-old drilling ban permits oil and gas leasing as close as three miles to the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico -- except off the western coast of Florida. A 125-mile buffer off the Florida coast will remain in place until 2022.

The legislation seeking to reimpose the ban in the Mid-Atlantic and North Atlantic offshore regions is sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey and co-sponsored by Reps. Kathy Castor of Florida, William D. Delahunt of Massachusetts, James Moran of Virginia, Steven Rothman of New Jersey and Albio Sires of New Jersey.

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