Senate Fails to Expand Offshore Drilling

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"Poll shows 28% of respondents blame O&G companies for gas-price surge."

Voice of America, Cindy Saine

senate fails to expand offshore

The U.S. Senate has failed to pass a bill that would have opened up more areas to offshore oil drilling and forced government regulators to speed up their decisions on oil drilling permits. The vote was 57 against the bill, and 42 in favoró18 short of the needed 60 'yes' votes to advance to the Senate floor. Lawmakers realize that their constituents are upset about high gasoline prices, but disagree on what course of action to take.

With opinion polls showing that more than 80% of Americans are worried about high gasoline prices, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are bringing up different kinds of approaches to deal with the problem. On Wednesday, the Democratic-controlled Senate defeated a bill sponsored by Republicans to expand offshore oil drilling.

Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi explains what the bill would have done. "This bill would require proposed lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, in the mid-Atlantic and those off of Alaska to be completed. It would cut bureaucratic red tape, while speeding up the approval of drilling permits and energy activity suspended during the administration's moratorium on offshore oil drilling would be extended by one year," said Wicker.

Most Democratic lawmakers voted against the bill, saying it would fail to lower gasoline prices and that it ignores safety lessons learned from last year's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest oil spill in history. Democratic Senator Robert Menendez objected to provisions that would have set a 60-day deadline for government regulators to decide on drilling permits, and on proposed drilling off the coast of Virginia.

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers are likely paying attention to opinion polls on gas prices, which show that 28% of respondents blamed oil and gas companies for the surge in gas prices.

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