Florida Dems seek moratoria on offshore oil exploration

Sen. Bill NelsonBill NelsonLawmakers stare down challenge of cyber-enabled ‘fake news’ United explains passenger removal to senators Overnight Cybersecurity: Ex-officials warn 'Buy American' might harm Pentagon cybersecurity | Chair nudges Trump on cyber order | House gets security training MORE (D-Fla.) is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, along with Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders calls for renewed focus on fighting climate change Maher on Obama speaking fee: Isn’t that what cost Clinton the election? NRA head: Sanders 'a political predator' MORE (I-Vt.), Jack ReedJack ReedSunday shows preview: McMaster hits circuit for second straight week The Hill's 12:30 Report Easy accessibility of voter registration data imperils American safety MORE (D-R.I.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinDemocrats exploring lawsuit against Trump Overnight Finance: Dems explore lawsuit against Trump | Full-court press for Trump tax plan | Clock ticks down to spending deadline Comey to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee 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 ObamaTrump team did background check on Flynn, knew of Turkey ties: report Trump: 'I couldn't care less about golf' Top Obama official to replace Chris Dodd as MPAA head 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.