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  • power_for_now_and_forever power_for_now_and_forever Jun 22, 2001 11:21 AM Flag

    More From The Washington Post

    Reps. Jim Davis (D-Fla.) and Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.), the chief sponsors of the Florida oil lease
    ban, declared that the administration was risking oil spills along the Florida coastline for the sake of
    modest increases in energy production.

    "We are against quick fixes to solve our energy problems," Davis said. "We don't want to see oil
    drilling off the coast."

    Gov. Bush has repeatedly urged his brother's administration not to proceed with plans to extend
    offshore oil and gas drilling to a tract that comes as close as 17 miles to Pensacola, Fla., and 200
    miles from the Tampa Bay region. The tract, called Lease 181, covers about 6 million acres and
    may contain 400 million barrels of oil.

    During last year's campaign, President Bush expressed sympathy with Florida's opposition to
    offshore oil and gas production, including Lease 181. Yet, the White House opposed any delay in
    leases and lobbied some of Florida's Republican lawmakers on the issue.

    By 242 to 173, the House approved an amendment to the spending bill by Rep. Nick J. Rahall II
    (D-W.Va.) that would prohibit new energy exploration in national monuments beyond that already
    allowed. Forty-seven Republicans voted in favor of the proposal.

    "Some of the oil and gas companies have been hankering to get into these lands for years," Rahall
    said. "Our national heritage must not be sacrificed on the altar of greed and profits."

    The Interior Department recently determined there are significant energy reserves within the
    boundaries of five monuments designated by President Bill Clinton, including large, low-sulfur coal
    deposits in the 1.7 million-acre Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. The
    agency has also looked at monument land in California, Colorado, Washington and Idaho.

    The House also voted 216 to 194 to prevent further administration review of Clinton administration
    regulations that would require mining companies to pay for the full cost of environmental cleanups
    on federal land. The regulations also impose strong environmental standards to protect ground and
    surface water from mining pollution and give federal agencies wide discretion in deciding whether to
    grant operating permits to mines that may pose a serious environmental threat.

    Staff writer Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report.

    Washington Post

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