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On U.S. coasts, a rethink on oil drilling?

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State moratoriums cover the first few miles off the shores, and federal moratoriums extend those to 200 miles out. Offshore drilling is allowed in parts of the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and some grandfathered pockets off California.

President Bush echoed Senator McCain Wednesday, urging Congress to lift the federal moratorium.

California is unlikely to budge on its ban, but more conservative Southern states including Florida might, says Dr. Smith. Californians, by a 52-to-41 margin, oppose drilling off their coast, according to a July 2007 Public Policy Institute of California poll taken before gas prices started increasing.

Republican governors of the two states have taken opposite tacks: California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger opposes lifting the moratoriums, while Florida's Gov. Charlie Crist now supports it.

Governor Crist's position is a stark reversal for the governor, who is seen as a possible vice presidential pick. The decision puts him at odds with Floridians who derive the bulk of their livelihoods from the beaches.

"This would break ranks with all previous governors as long as I can remember," said Eric Draper, policy director for Audubon Florida. "He is squandering his green credentials on this issue."

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