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US: Offshore drilling ban expires

IT IS NOT what Congress did, but what it did not do in late September that could significantly effect the country's energy supplies. Lawmakers opted not to attach a provision to a federal temporary spending bill that would have extended the 25-year-old ban on drilling in federal waters off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, allowing the prohibition to lapse at midnight on 30 September. A different statute, which bars drilling within 125 miles off Florida's Gulf Coast until 2022, remains in force. Congressional inaction also led to the expiration of a two-year-old ban on leasing public lands in the western US for development of oil-shale reserves. President George Bush had threatened to veto t

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