Congress approved expanded offshore drilling in its final hours, giving energy companies access to oil and natural gas deposits in a vast area once off limits in the Gulf of Mexico.
President Bush is expected to sign the legislation. He says it will help to reduce our dependence on imported sources of energy.
Opponents of the bill say its revised formula for sharing royalties from energy production in federal waters would cut into government revenue at a time when the federal government faces huge deficits.
The legislation opens 8.3 million acres of Gulf waters 125 miles from the Florida Panhandle.
It was part of a massive tax package that cleared the Senate early yesterday shortly before the 109th Congress adjourned. The House passed it on Friday.
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