Cardin wants new drilling 'off the table' in Senate's energy bill

Senators working on an energy and climate bill should take off the table provisions that expand offshore drilling, one Democratic senator suggested Monday.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said that the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico should force lawmakers to reconsider plans for expanded offshore exploration.

"What I hope is that the offshore drilling, along with the Atlantic and the Gulf, that area is off the table, and there's no expanded drilling in those areas," Cardin said during an appearance on the liberal Bill Press radio show.

Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) had been working to craft a compromise energy and climate bill with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that would, among other things, allow increased oil and gas exploration in the Gulf and along the Atlantic coast in exchange for some of the bill's increased restrictions on emissions that contribute to climate change.

"I certainly hope it doesn't derail the bill," Cardin said of the oil spill's effect on the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham bill overall.

President Barack Obama's administration had been set to allow increased drilling before April's explosion on a BP rig, which resulted in a pipeline leak that has sent thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The White House has said it won't approve new drilling projects until an investigation into the current incident is completed.

Not every senator is applauding the president's decision to pause new drilling, though. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) urged the administration to press ahead with new exploration on Sunday.

Obama traveled to Louisiana on Sunday to survey the areas affected by the spill, which is considered one of the worst environmental disasters in the U.S. in years.

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