Aug 06 2006

Alabama Senators Applaud Passage of Offshore Drilling Bill

Associated Press

Alabama Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby said today's vote to tap undeveloped oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico is a move that will benefit state taxpayers and consumers for years.

They also say it's major shift away from long-standing opposition to offshore drilling.

On the Senate floor Sessions said the end of the opposition was - quote -- "a fabulous thing."

The bill, which passed the Senate 75-21, would allow oil and natural gas drilling in some 8(M) million acres about 100 miles south of the Alabama coast. Supporters say it will eventually help lower high prices.

Sessions and Shelby were among eight Gulf senators who insisted that the measure also include a new revenue-sharing formula that would funnel potentially billions of dollars to Alabama and three other states closest to the drilling.

Critics say bill it would barely affect global energy markets, but put a hole in future federal budgets by diverting revenues to the states.

Senate leaders now must persuade their House counterparts to accept the bill. House Republicans have insisted on a more aggressive offshore bill that would open coastal areas around the country.