In another congressional reaction to the Gulf Coast oil spill, six Senate Democrats from the West Coast have introduced a bill that would permanently ban new oil and gas drilling off the shores of California, Oregon and Washington state.

The measure, introduced May 13, would reinstate--only for the West Coast--a longstanding congressional and White House prohibition on Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas exploration. That nationwide drilling ban had been lifted in 2008.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and was co-sponsored by her California colleague Dianne Feinstein, as well as Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon and Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington. All six lawmakers are Democrats.

Boxer said, "Nearly 570,000 jobs and our vital coastal economy would not survive an environmental disaster like the one we¹re seeing now along the Gulf Coast."

The senators' bill is identical to one introduced in the House May 5 by Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.). Garamendi said May 13 his bill has 28 co-sponsors.

The Senate and House bills say that "the Secretary of the Interior shall not issue a lease for the exploration, development, or production of oil or natural gas in any area of the outer Continental Shelf off the coast of the State of California, Oregon or Washington."