Green groups: expanding offshore drilling 'not acceptable' in light of Gulf disaster

The groups also cast a broader net, indicating they’ll fight any effort that would lead to more drilling,  including a plan by the Obama administration to allow “exploratory” drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off of Alaska’s coast and a bill passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to open up new areas in the Gulf of Mexico. 

“Expanding exploration and drilling into previously protected and remote areas is unacceptable when it is clear that we are not capable of responding to oil spills in a timely manner,” the letter sent Monday states.

“Provisions creating new incentives (such as state revenue sharing) or reduced safeguards for expanded offshore drilling are simply not acceptable.”

Graham was thought to be the leading advocate of the language because he sees offshore drilling as a way to increase the nation’s energy independence and create new jobs. He has defended offshore drilling since the accident, but has withdrawn support from the climate legislation over a separate dispute on immigration reform.

The Senate climate bill has never been released, but environmental groups seem clearly to be drawing a line in the sand on an issue that could come up should the measure ever surface.

"Expanding exploration and drilling into previously protected and remote areas is unacceptable when it is clear that we are not capable of responding to oil spills in a timely manner," the environmental letter states.