Sen. Elizabeth Dole says North Carolina should have the option of allowing offshore oil exploration.
Dole said in a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday that she supports lifting a moratorium that has prohibited exploration off the Atlantic coast. The Republican senator had long supported the moratorium, saying it was necessary to protect tourism and marine habitat.
But as gas prices have passed $4 a gallon, Dole has increasingly softened her stance on offshore exploration. She said at a forum last week that she still opposed the idea but would give it consideration if a measure came across her desk.
Dole said the option should be available to states so long as the exploration is safe, clean and not visible from the land.