A bill moving toward approval in the Senate would increase by 60 days the amount of time the Interior Department has to conduct environmental and safety reviews of offshore drilling projects.
The bill would extend the review period for offshore exploration plans from 30 days to 90 days. The Obama administration has said an extension is necessary to ensure projects are adequately reviewed. The agency responsible for offshore drilling was widely criticized after the Gulf oil spill for rushing through BP's permit for a deepwater well without sufficient environmental review.
Sens. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, and Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, oppose the extension, saying it would unnecessarily delay job-producing offshore energy projects.