Offshore Drilling

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An aide to President George Bush has assured Florida's two senators that pending energy legislation would not be used to lift a moratorium on oil and natural gas drilling within 100 miles of the state's Gulf Coast.

Sen. Bill Nelson's office released a copy of a letter from Rebecca W. Watson, assistant secretary of interior for land and minerals management, that included a renewed commitment against such drilling. She was responding to an April 2 letter from Nelson and Sen. Bob Graham.

In the letter dated Tuesday, Watson wrote that the energy bill, before the Senate, does not affect moratoriums on new lease rights for drilling or exploration in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida, except for one small section south of Alabama.