FEBRUARY 16, 2006 - Posted at 8:02 a.m. CST
WASHINGTON (AP) - An expansion of natural gas drilling near coastlines would be possible under a bill sponsored by Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor, a Democrat, and Senator John Warner of Virginia, a Republican.
There's currently a moratorium on new drilling in certain offshore waters. But the bill would allow governors of coastal states to negotiate new drilling contracts before the moratorium expires in 2012.
The bill has attracted criticism from the Sierra Club. The environmental group says more drilling would disrupt habitat for endangered aquatic life.
Pryor says conservation and increased use of alternative fuels is necessary, but so is pursuing replenishing supplies.
The senator has received campaign donations from organizations tied to oil and gas industries, but he says they have nothing to do with his proposal.