House Democrats, out-stubborned by Republicans, will allow the 26-year-old congressional ban on offshore oil and gas drilling to expire on Sept. 30. Dems will not attach a provision to ban offshore drilling to a stopgap spending bill that’s expected to swiftly pass Congress and be signed by President Bush. The prez had made it clear that he would veto the bill if it included language upholding the ban. The expiration of the moratorium could theoretically allow offshore leasing to begin Oct. 1, though Dems are likely to try to include drilling restrictions in other legislation, and in any case, it would be quite a while before any actual drilling commenced. The whole kit and kaboodle, in effect, leaves the future of offshore-drilling policy to the next Congress and the presidential administration of John McCain or Barack Obama.
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