House passes bill making it easier to drill
WASHINGTON - The Republican-controlled House has passed the first of three bills aimed at making it easier for oil companies to drill offshore.
The House passed the first measure 266-149 Thursday. It would force the government to conduct three lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one off the Atlantic Coast within a year, or by June 2012. The Obama administration postponed the sales after the massive Gulf oil spill to conduct more thorough environmental reviews and account for the blowout's effects.
The White House Thursday said it would oppose the legislation - if it passes the Senate - because it would "hastily open up areas" to drilling. The three Gulf sales are scheduled to occur by mid-2012. The sale off Virginia at the earliest would happen in 2017.