Today the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Senator Byron Dorgan's (D-ND) amendment to the broad energy bill the Committee is currently marking up. Dorgan's amendment proposes opening oil and gas leasing in the eastern Gulf of Mexico up to 45 miles from Florida's coast. The passage of Dorgan's proposal would end a drilling ban across most of the eastern Gulf waters, including in an area known as the Destin Dome which reaches within 10 miles of the Florida coast, and is believed to hold as much as 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and others voiced strong opposition to the plan, arguing that it would interfere with military training. Further, Senator Nelson threatened to filibuster if necessary to block the effort.

Separately, the Committee rejected Senator Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) revenue sharing proposal, which would have distributed 37.5% of the revenues collected from oil and gas development in the eastern Gulf to nearby states, directed 50% of the revenues toward federal deficit reduction, and 12.5% to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In particular, Landrieu's plan would have extended a 2006 Gulf leasing law that established a revenue sharing program for several Gulf Coast states to Alaska and other states that may have offshore leasing in the future. Find further information in E&E's Greenwire. [Subscription required]