House votes to ease rules for offshore drilling

The House has approved a bill removing a barrier to companies seeking to drill for oil in some areas offshore.

The measure was approved Wednesday by 253-166 vote. It would give the Environmental Protection Agency six months to decide on air pollution permits for offshore rigs or platforms exploring for oil. It also limits challenges to the EPA's appeals board and restricts which emissions can be evaluated.

Shell Oil Co. scrapped plans to drill in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska in February after the appeals board said it would review its permit.

The delay has been criticized by Republicans for blocking oil production and is the primary reason for the bill.

The White House opposes the measure, saying it deprives citizens of a way to challenge permits and would also increase air pollution.