Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Larry Craig (R-ID) plan to introduce bipartisan energy security legislation Wednesday that, among other things, would permit U.S. producers to explore for oil and natural gas in Cuban waters located as close as 45 miles from Florida.

The bill contends that domestic producers should be allowed to drill in these waters, where national oil companies have currently been granted access by Cuba to carry out exploration and production activities.

Toward this aim, the measure calls on Congress to open up more of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to drilling by lifting the federal moratoria boundary from 125 miles to within 45 miles of the coast. "This is still beyond the line of sight along the coast in the eastern Gulf of Mexico," a summary of the bill said.

The bill also proposes that an inventory be conducted of the oil and natural gas resources off the southeastern seaboard of the U.S. using the best available assessment technologies. The inventory would be contingent on the governors of the affected states -- Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia -- petitioning the Interior Department to remove any existing federal legislative or administrative prohibitions on such assessments.

The measure also calls for an annual increase in the corporate average fuel economy standards, would provide tax credits for alternative and fuel efficient motor vehicles, would establish a renewable fuels standard; and would promote the creation of a biofuels infrastructure.

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