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SC legislators advance offshore drilling bill

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina legislators have given initial approval to a bill directing the state's environmental agency to expedite offshore drilling applications after federal restrictions are removed.

A Senate panel voted 4-1 Wednesday to advance the measure to the full Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

The bill would direct the state Department of Health and Environmental Control to speedily review any application for a permit for offshore exploration, drilling or production for oil and gas.

Sen. Jake Knotts opposed the measure, saying he disagreed with expediting applications.

The meeting follows President Barack Obama's push to give the petroleum industry access to the southern Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and more of Alaska's coast.

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