Senate hammers out compromise on offshore drilling

GOP leaders in the Senate unveiled a compromise yesterday that would allow offshore oil and gas drilling in the eastern and southern Gulf of Mexico, but protect waters within 125 miles of the Florida coast until 2022 and keep the drilling ban that’s been in place in most of the rest of the country’s offshore waters. Hoping to attract more support, bill backers added language that would boost royalty revenue to Gulf Coast states that already allow offshore drilling. Florida’s Republican senator, Mel Martinez, who helped negotiate the compromise, was satisfied; the state’s Democratic senator, Bill Nelson, called the legislation “very promising” but planned to scrutinize the details before agreeing not to filibuster. Environmentalists worry that the bill will be stripped of protections when negotiators meet to hammer out a compromise between the Senate version and a more drill-happy House bill. And, really, the enviros just don’t like offshore drilling. “No matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, it’s still a pig,” said League of Conservation Voters legislative director Tiernan Sittenfeld.