House Votes to End Offshore Drilling Ban

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House, responding to growing public demand for more domestic energy, has voted to end a quarter-century ban on oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

An extension of the ban for another year was left off a stopgap government spending bill the House approved Wednesday on a 370-58 vote.

Lifting the ban does not itself mean drilling in the offshore waters is imminent. But it could set the stage for the Interior Department to offer leases in some Atlantic federal waters as early as 2011. Democrats said continuation of the drilling ban would have prompted a veto by President Bush and possible government shutdown.

The spending bill now goes to the Senate where it is likely to be approved in the next few days.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Highlights of a Democratic bill lifting a moratorium on additional offshore oil drilling and providing funding for federal agencies after the 2009 budget year that starts Oct. 1:



Lifts quarter-century ban on drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts but keeps in place restrictions on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.



Keeps most domestic agencies operating at current funding levels through March unless Congress separately enacts their budgets.



Combines more than $600 billion in appropriations for the 2009 budgets for the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.



Provides $23 billion in emergency aid for victims of recent hurricanes and summer floods in the Midwest.



Provides $25 billion in federal loans to help Detroit automakers retool factories to produce automobiles meeting new emissions and fuel efficiency standards.



Doubles, to $5.2 billion, funding for heating and air conditioning subsidies for the poor.

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