In a close vote today, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources added an amendment to the proposed energy bill that would repeal mandatory royalty relief for oil and gas leases in deep waters off the coasts of the U.S. The amendment gives the Secretary of the Interior discretion to grant or deny royalty relief below certain price thresholds. As has been the case throughout much of the debate on offshore oil and gas drilling, Democrats argued that incentives for oil and gas companies are unnecessary, while Republicans contended that the U.S. needs to increase domestic supplies to end dependence on foreign oil. See yesterday's New York Times for more details.