Democrats Switch Policy to Back Offshore Drilling

GOP pressure, $4 gas behind sea change on energy position
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2008 2:04 AM CDT
Beachgoers enjoy the surf in Huntington Beach, Calif., with an offshore drilling rig looming in the distance.    (AP Photo/Ric Francis)
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(Newser) – The Democrats are tossing a big part of their environmental policy overboard to reach a compromise on offshore drilling, reports the New York Times. A shift in public opinion, coupled with Republican pressure on the issue, has convinced the party to reverse its long-held opposition to back a deal allowing some new drilling. The compromise bill is tied to clean energy initiatives.

The proposal, to be voted on next week, would allow drilling 50 miles offshore if states consent. While acknowledging that the compromise represents a stark change in Democratic policy, Republicans and oil companies say the plan doesn't go far enough. "The reality is if we don’t have something in the bill," they will be "drilling three miles offshore," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.