Florida Dems seek moratoria on offshore oil exploration

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonOvernight Tech: Senate panel subpoenaed ex-Yahoo chief | Twitter gives all users 280 characters | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | EU wants tax answers from Apple Overnight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny Former Yahoo CEO subpoenaed to appear before Congress MORE (D-Fla.) is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, along with Sens. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersWorld leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report Sanders on Brazile revelations: DNC needs ‘far more transparency’ Sen. Warren sold out the DNC MORE (I-Vt.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Raymond ReedAfter Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem McCain pledges 'rigorous oversight' after Air Force failure to report Texas gunman's conviction Dems furious over Air Force failure to report Texas shooter's conviction MORE (D-R.I.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff Bipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks MORE (D-Calif.). Rep Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) is a House co-sponsor, and other House members will back the bill by day’s end, an aide to Meek said.

The bill would specifically halt any new exploration, development and production in federal waters, including seismic tests.

Also, it says that exploration already underway should be suspended unless the Interior Department certifies that it doesn’t pose a “significant risk” if accident. Nelson’s office emphasized that the measure would not block current oil production.

The measure also suspends work on the Obama administration plan to open new areas for development in the 2012-2017 period.

The administration in late March announced plans for leasing in areas along the Atlantic Coast, which until 2008 was under a drilling moratorium, and wider leasing in Arctic waters.

As part of the plan, the administration is calling on Congress to shrink the no-drilling buffer in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, although it would keep rigs 125 miles from Florida’s Gulf shores.

President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny Russian social media is the modern-day Trojan horse Trump records robo-call for Gillespie: He'll help 'make America great again' MORE last week said that new offshore leases would not be issued until the Interior Department had conducted a 30-day review of new safeguards that may be needed. However, no lease sales are scheduled within that time frame anyway.

Interior also dispatched inspectors to deepwater exploration and production platforms after the spill.

Longer term, administration officials have acknowledged that the Gulf disaster will factor into their decision-making as they craft the specifics of the plan to expand leasing into new areas.