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Natural Gas Development in Restricted Areas May be Allowed

A House Appropriations committee voted last Wednesday to lift a long-standing moratorium on drilling on most of nation’s Outer Continental Shelf. The vote signaled a victory for Rep. John Peterson (R-PA), who has tirelessly campaigned to open offshore areas to natural gas development.

The action does not affect a presidential moratorium that prevents offshore oil and gas drilling in virtually all coastal waters outside the central and western Gulf of Mexico. That remains in effect until 2012.

Peterson has realistically said that the fight was not over in the House and the Senate. But, he insists that the nation desperately needs the offshore gas reserves to ease tight supplies that pushed the cost of LNG more than triple.

While there is growing support for lifting the drilling bans, especially for natural gas, environmentalists still vehemently oppose these efforts and Congressional delegations from coastal areas say that increased drilling could threaten tourism and other recreational industries.