BP Oil Spill Complicates Obama's Clean Energy Push

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Congress is just as much to blame, others say. Though they cut $38 billion from the federal budget in a deal passed last week, lawmakers spared subsidies for oil and gas companies.

"I'm very disappointed. I feel as if Congress is turning their backs on the people in the Gulf," said Regan Nelson, senior oceans advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Congress had over 50 hearings [but] as soon as the wells were plugged and cameras went away, you saw a decline in interest in Congress."

The Republican takeover of the House has complicated the formula further. With gas prices surging, Republicans say offshore oil drilling is needed to alleviate price pressure.

Next week, the House Natural Resources Committee will debate three bills that seek to boost offshore oil drilling on the Gulf coast and reverse the moratorium imposed by Obama last year. The bills, they argue, will help create more jobs and cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Despite the BP oil spill and its effects, Americans hold a generally favorable view of offshore drilling, according to a Gallup poll released last month. Of those polled, six in 10 favored increasing offshore drilling for oil and gas in U.S. coastal areas, up from 50 percent in May 2010. The same poll found 49 percent of Americans in favor of opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration, the highest level of support Gallup has recorded for drilling in ANWR since it first posed the question in 2002.

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