Kerry open to Obama drilling plan

Sen. John Kerry, who is leading the effort to craft a climate bill in the Senate, said Wednesday that he would consider supporting President Barack Obama's decision to expand offshore oil and gas drilling.

Kerry's (D-Mass.) spokesperson Whitney Smith said that the move could help him attract the 60 votes necessary to move climate legislation through the Senate. 

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“In the difficult work of putting together a 60 vote coalition to price carbon, Senator Kerry has put aside his own long-time policy objections and been willing to explore potential energy sources off our coasts as part of a suite of alternative solutions," Smith said in a statement supplied to The Plum Line. "He and his colleagues are committed to find acceptable compromises on onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration."

Kerry has been working with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to craft a climate bill that could get enough support to overcome a GOP filibuster while not alienating liberals and environmental groups.

Republicans favor more drilling but their leaders have said that the plan does not open up enough areas for drilling because it excludes Pacific coast and some areas of Alaska.

Obama's plan would expand drilling areas to include areas off the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. 

10 coastal Democratic senators recently wrote Kerry to say they would oppose a bill if it greatly expands offshore oil and gas drilling, citing environmental concerns.

Kerry's office said the drilling under Obama's plan would be "conducted in an environmentally sensitive manner that protects the interests of the coastal states."

Click here to see a map that describes the Alaska offshore drilling strategy.

Click here to see a map that describes the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico drilling strategies.

Cross-posted to the Briefing Room