Senate votes to expand drilling in Gulf of Mexico

Acting boldly to address America’s nascent energy crisis, U.S. senators … passed one more sop to the oil and gas industry and got ready to flee town for the summer recess. Yesterday, by a vote of 71 to 25, the Senate passed a bill that would open 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling, while protecting a zone around Florida and funneling beaucoup drilling royalties to gulf states (thus bribing key lawmakers for support). The bill must still be reconciled with a House-passed version, which calls for … even more drilling. The House bill would rescind a 25-year-old drilling moratorium on most U.S. coastal waters more than 100 miles from shore, opening up to development about 350 million additional acres in the Atlantic and Pacific. If the legislation comes out of conference committee with the House bill’s expansive scope, some senators have threatened a filibuster.