Today, in a press conference in the Rose Garden, President Bush chided Congress for a dismal failure to act to expand domestic oil production then announced the end of the executive prohibition on exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). For exploration to begin, action by both the President and Congress is necessary.
President Bush said, “One of the most important steps we can take to expand American oil production is to increase access to offshore exploration on the Outer Continental Shelf, or what’s called the OCS. But Congress has restricted access to key parts of the OCS since the early 1980s. Experts believe that these restricted areas of the OCS could eventually produce nearly 10 years’ worth of America’s current annual oil production. And advances in technology have made it possible to conduct oil exploration in the OCS that is out of sight, protects coral reefs and habitats, and protects against oil spills.
“Last month, I asked Congress to lift this legislative ban and allow the exploration and development of offshore oil resources. I committed to lift an executive prohibition on this exploration if Congress did so, tailoring my executive action to match what Congress passed. It’s been almost a month since I urged Congress to act — and they’ve done nothing. They’ve not moved any legislation. And as the Democratically-controlled Congress has sat idle, gas prices have continued to increase,” President Bush said.
“Failure to act is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable to me and it’s unacceptable to the American people. So today, I’ve issued a memorandum to lift the executive prohibition on oil exploration in the OCS. With this action, the executive branch’s restrictions on this exploration have been cleared away. This means that the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is action from the U.S. Congress.
“Now the ball is squarely in Congress’ court. Democratic leaders can show that they have finally heard the frustrations of the American people by matching the action I’ve taken today, repealing the congressional ban, and passing legislation to facilitate responsible offshore exploration. This legislation must allow states to have a say in what happens off their shores, provides a way for the federal government and states to share new leasing revenues, and ensure the environment is protected,” President Bush added.
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today praised the lifting of the bam saying, “President Bush is to be commended for taking a critical step to ensure increased domestic energy supply for America. Democrats in Congress must stop blocking America’s access to the resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). With gas prices continuing to skyrocket, suffering Americans are demanding Congress allow more domestic energy production.
“Recent polling has shown 67 percent of the American people now support offshore drilling, with just 18 percent opposed. Congress should follow the President’s lead and lift the moratoriums on domestic energy exploration. Currently, 85 percent of the OCS –an estimated 19 billion barrels of recoverable oil — is off limits. At today’s import levels, this is the equivalent of 35 years of imports from Saudi Arabia. No country on earth has exploration technology as advanced and environmentally sound as ours. Even so, Democrats oppose offshore production based upon misleading environmental grounds. Major spills from drilling and production platforms are nearly non-existent. Both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which were massive Category 5’s, plowed through the heart of Gulf oil production just four weeks apart, yet no major spills occurred,” Sen. Inhofe added.
Congresswoman Mary Fallin (R-Okla) today said, “I applaud the President’s decision. It is obvious that one immediate solution to rising energy prices is to find and develop more domestic oil and gas reserves. Modern technologies have made offshore drilling safer and cleaner than ever before. We must move aggressively to open those offshore areas that were off limits for far too long.
“Unfortunately, those in control of Congress still refuse to allow us to vote on lifting Congressional bans on additional exploration and development. I will continue to work with like-minded colleagues from both parties who understand the economic realities and who are determined to craft a sensible energy policy that will tap domestic oil and gas reserves while we move ahead on all fronts in conserving and in developing alternative energy sources. Hopefully this decision by the President will inject some common sense into the debate in Washington,” Rep. Fallin added.