WASHINGTON — Spurred in part by higher energy prices, the House of Representatives voted Thursday to in effect rescind a decades-old federal moratorium on offshore drilling for oil and gas, a move proponents hope will be the first step toward opening the outer continental shelf to more fuel exploration. The bill, passed by a vote of 232 to 187, would permit states that agree to offshore drilling to share in the royalties from the leases, thereby creating a financial incentive to spur development. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has expressed strong opposition to the House measure, saying that the ‘impacts of new offshore oil and gas leasing and development off the California coast are unacceptable.’ Supporters said the measure would give states control over their shorelines and an opportunity to debate the balance between energy needs and coastal protection. ‘Any state will be able to stop production from occurring within 100 miles of its shores should it choose to do so,’ said Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a co-sponsor of the bill. ‘If state officials decide to allow production, they will share in the royalties.’ Opponents argued that sending royalties to states that permit drilling would rob […]

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