US House votes to expand offshore drilling

House bill: Would expand areas available for offshore drilling

US lawmakers from the US House of Representatives voted on Friday to expand offshore oil and gas leasing to additional offshore areas.

The Republican-controlled chamber voted 235-186 on the measure, which would require lease sales to be held within a year or two off Virginia, South Carolina and southern California.

The full text can be found here. The bill, among other things, would also rework the US five-year drilling plan to allow leasing in other states if supported by governors

Under the bill, US regulators "shall make available for leasing and conduct lease sales including at least 50% of the available unleased acreage within each outer Continental Shelf planning area considered to have the largest undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources," according to the text.

But like similar measure passing in the House before, this bill is unlikely to become law on opposition from the Democratic-controlled Senate and US President Barack Obama.

Dow Jones reported that the White House has issued a veto threat regarding the measure, that "the bill would undermine the targeted, science-based, and regionally-tailored offshore development strategy" in place at present.

The upper chamber may be more amenable to the legislation this time, as some Democratic members have shown more support for offshore drilling recently.

“This legislation is a pro-energy, pro-jobs plan that will strengthen our economy and increase our energy security by responsibly and safely harnessing our vast offshore energy resources,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, the bill's sponsor.

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