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Pelosi Backs Some Drilling, But Details Sketchy

“If either side tries to pass a bill that’s not bipartisan, they are not serious about getting a bill to the finish line,” said Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.), who has crafted a bill centered on broader offshore drilling with Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) that has bipartisan support. “Abercrombie and I have a bill ready to go,” he said, complaining that Democratic leaders have yet to reach out to Republicans.

“Most Democrats I’ve talked to have no more idea what’s in [Pelosi’s] bill than I do,” he said.

And Peterson complained that if Pelosi locks up the rest of the coast permanently instead of extending the annual ban that now exists, “that’s a step backward.”

Republicans kept up their months-long drumbeat for a vote on their energy package, which would open land offshore and in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and use much of the proceeds to boost renewable energy and conservation.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) panned the proposal.

“It leaves most American energy under lock and key when we should be doing everything possible to expand energy production, increase conservation and promote development of clean, renewable energy,” he said.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that next week will be “energy week” in the Senate and that he hoped to hold at least three votes on energy bills, including a Democratic proposal under development by Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), a Republican alternative and a bipartisan proposal by the “Gang of 10.”

That proposal would partly lift the drilling ban and invest billions in alternative energy sources. It also would revoke industry tax breaks, while boosting nuclear power.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who star ed the effort along with Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), suggested Tuesday that an announcement on additional gang members might occur later this week. “Our gang is going to grow some more,” he said.

Conrad said he was contacted by five or six Senators about joining the group on Monday alone.

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