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House Democrats to OK some offshore drilling

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House Democratic leaders, who for months rejected Republicans' demands to expand offshore drilling for oil, now say they are willing to allow coastal oil as close as 50 miles offshore, if states agree.

The remaining Outer Continental Shelf from 100 miles out also would be open to oil and gas leasing without state approval, according to a summary of a broad energy bill that House Democrats are expected to introduce early next week.

Drilling is prohibited in most federal waters closer than 200 miles.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said the energy package "will lower the price at the pump for American consumers and set our nation on a course of true energy independence."

House Republican leaders said the bill, details of which haven't been released, fails to include measures to increase development of nuclear power, clean coal and oil shale.

Republicans also balked at the notion that the measure was a good-faith compromise.

"You seldom get a compromise when you don't talk to a single person on the other side," said House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican. "Not a single Republican to my knowledge has been asked for their input."

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