Kerry: Energy bill blocks new drilling during Gulf probe

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said the energy and climate bill he is unveiling Wednesday would block offshore oil-and-gas drilling while the Gulf of Mexico rig explosion and oil spill is investigated.

“It places a moratorium on current drilling until we know what happened in the Gulf, and then we proceed forward,” he said Wednesday on CBS’s “The Early Show.”

The Obama administration has already pulled back on issuing exploratory drilling permits as it reviews offshore safety issues. President Barack Obama has also said that new leases will not be issued without expanded safeguards.

The bill that Kerry and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) crafted gives states new power to block drilling off their shores. But it also gives states a major incentive to support drilling by providing them a 37.5 percent share of the royalties, according to a summary circulated Tuesday.

Update: Whitney Smith, a spokeswoman for Kerry, provided further comment about pulling back on drilling while the Gulf spill is probed.

“It [the bill] affirms that, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill, new drilling should be halted until the Secretary of Interior completes an investigation. It also acknowledges that a range of colleagues have contributed valuable proposals, including liability mechanisms and rig safety measures, which all warrant careful consideration moving forward,” she said.

This post was updated at 9:19 a.m. on May 12.