New legislation that would bring natural gas drilling to 20 miles off coastlines in Florida and other states is scheduled to be heard by congressional committee on Thursday.
The bill was introduced yesterday. It is the latest in a series of attempts to expand offshore drilling due to price increases and shortages linked to fuel supply disruptions caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf of Mexico.
Drilling opponents so far have been able to beat back attempts to lift presidential and congressional moratoriums on offshore drilling. Oil and gas rigs are seen as a threat to beaches that are vital to the Florida's tourism industry.
The natural gas bill is being offered by Republican Representative John E. Peterson of Pennsylvania and Democratic Congressman Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii. They have failed in previous attempts to pass similar legislation.