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Face-off ahead on offshore drilling ban

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A vote could come as early as this week over whether to lift a ban on oil and gas drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf. The ban has been renewed every year since 1981 as part of the annual appropriations process. During the August recess, Republicans held 25 protests on a darkened House floor to urge Democrats to call the House back into session for an up-or-down vote on an energy bill, including a vote on more access to offshore-energy reserves.

“This is not the end of the gas price protest. This is the beginning,” said Rep. Mike Pence (R) of Indiana during Friday’s protest.

Aware of recent polls showing that 7 in 10 Americans now favor lifting the ban, Democrats are crafting compromise energy legislation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a shift, on Aug. 18 promised a vote on offshore drilling as part of a comprehensive energy plan. Previously, she had characterized GOP claims that offshore drilling could reduce energy prices as “a hoax.”

“We are trying to do the right thing here: to get a bill that will end our dependence on foreign oil,” says Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly. The legislation, still being drafted, would remove some $18 billion in existing subsidies to oil companies and increase tax incentives for renewable fuels.

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