Democrats’ stance against offshore drilling shifted more on Saturday, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaling she was willing to consider opening up more areas off the nation’s coastlines to oil and gas exploration.

In her party’s weekly radio address, Pelosi said opening portions of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling would be a part of energy legislation House Democrats will put forward in coming weeks to address the country’s dependence on foreign oil and high gasoline prices.

House members will be able to “consider opening portions of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling, with appropriate safeguards, and without taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil,” said Pelosi, a California Democrat.

Just weeks ago Pelosi seemed resolved to block any votes to allow offshore drilling, in part because Californians have opposed drilling off their coasts since an oil spill off Santa Barbara in 1969. New oil drilling is only allowed now in federal waters in the western Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska.

Pelosi’s radio remarks were the latest to hint that the energy debate in Congress is still evolving, and that Democrats are budging on the issue.

AP
8/16/8