House votes to end moratorium on offshore drilling

The House voted yesterday to end the 25-year-old ban on oil and gas drilling off most of the U.S. coast. The highly contentious debate broke down more along geographic lines than partisan ones, as states standing to make money from the drilling largely supported it. Under the bill, drilling would be allowed beyond 50 miles off the coast; states could vote to extend protection to 100 miles, but they would have to pass legislation on it again every five years. The most controversial part of the bill was a plan to reroute, over time, up to 75 percent of the drilling royalties to states rather than the feds. This bribery was necessary to get coastal states behind the bill, but it stands to leech $20 billion from the federal treasury over the next 10 years. “We should not be opening all of our coasts to oil drilling when we have not taken the first step to conserve oil,” said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), who added that the bill “pretty much defines ‘travesty.'” Florida’s two senators have vowed to filibuster the bill if it reaches the Senate floor.