House bill would end U.S. offshore drilling bans

Legislation being drafted in the House Resources Committee would end 23-year-old bans on new offshore oil and gas drilling in the U.S. Still not formally introduced, the legislation, dubbed the State Enhanced Authority for Coastal and Offshore Resources Act, would expand state control over offshore drilling and up states’ shares of royalties from drilling. Industry groups have been pressuring lawmakers to attach SEACOR to the stalled energy bill, up for consideration next month. A spokesflack for committee chair Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) insists the bill is “not ready for prime time” — just yet. But in the meantime, proponents have been drumming up support in some cash-strapped states, paving the way for the bill’s eventual rollout. Said Richard Charter of Environmental Defense, “We see SEACOR as part of a stealth strategy to undo all protections of U.S. coastlines for offshore drilling.”