Legislative attempts to weaken the moratorium on oil and gas drilling of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), composed of much of the coastal area surrounding the United States, may be blocked by an amendment to the congressional energy bill proposed Thursday.

The amendment was proposed by congresswoman Lois Capps (D-23) and co-sponsored by representatives Jeff Miller (R-Florida) and Jim Davis (D-Florida). The amendment will strike certain provisions from the energy bill that undermine the longstanding agreement against new oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Florida, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and the entire Eastern Seaboard.

“Coastal communities have spoken repeatedly in strong bipartisan voices to protect their sensitive coastal resources and productive coastal economies from new oil drilling. They are too valuable to risk even one accident or spill that would devastate the local marine environment and economy,” Capps said. “These moratoria have been upheld again and again – by three separate administrations and Congress for more than 20 years. The house must again reject this new attempt to gut protections for our coastal waters.”

In 1982, Congress passed a bill prohibiting federal funding from being used for leasing, pre-leasing or other oil drilling-related activities in coastal areas. Eight years later, President George Bush placed a ten-year moratorium on drilling in federal waters off these coasts. President Clinton extended this action to 2012.

“Despite the overwhelming support for the OCS moratorium, this energy bill pushes to open fragile coastal waters to the possibility of new drilling. This would roll back two decades of strong bipartisan consensus in Congress and the executive branch that certain parts of America’s shoreline should be protected from the dangers of offshore drilling. I am extremely hopeful that the House of Representatives will support my amendment, and reject any new risk to our valuable shorelines,” Capps said.