Democrats softening stance against offshore drilling


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Check out Times staff writer Richard Simon’s story today on Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s softening stance on offshore drilling.

According to the story, Pelosi and other House colleagues are considering legislation that would allow new offshore drilling as part of a broad energy bill out of worries that Democrats aren’t doing enough to address high gas prices during an election year.


The issue has presented Pelosi with a sticky political problem. On one hand, with gas prices on voters’ minds, public support for offshore drilling has increased, even in California, where a 1969 oil spill devastated the coast off Santa Barbara. Republicans have spotlighted Pelosi’s opposition to new coastal drilling in attacks on Democrats throughout the country. But the drilling ban has long been a priority for environmentalists, an important Democratic constituency, and party leaders prefer to shield their members from politically tough votes close to an election.

Last month President George W. Bush lifted an 18-year-old ban on new oil and gas drilling along U.S. coastlines and called on Congress to do the same because of high gas prices.

Meanwhile in California and across the country this week, crude oil prices continued to slide downward bringing motorists slight relief at the pumps.

-- Tami Abdollah