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DeMint: Time to End Ban on Deep-Sea Energy Exploration

June 19, 2008

DeMint: Time to End Ban on Deep-Sea Energy Exploration

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) applauded President Bush’s call on Congress to end the federal ban on offshore exploration for oil and natural gas.

“We must correct the mistakes of the last 30 years that have driven up gas prices and allow America to increase our own energy supply,” said Senator DeMint. “The President was absolutely right to call for an end to the federal ban on deep-sea oil and gas exploration, and Congress should vote to end the ban before we recess. With gas prices over $4 and home energy costs rising, it’s time for America to control our own energy supply.”

The federal government controls the Outer Conti­nental Shelf and grants leases to energy companies that wish to produce energy there. There are two federal prohibitions on drilling offshore. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush issued a directive restricting new oil and natural gas leases. These restrictions were set to expire in 2000, but in 1998, President Clinton extended them through 2012. Also, since 1981, Congress has prohibited states from drilling in 85% of U.S. Outer Continental Shelf in areas along the East and West Coasts and large areas in the Gulf of Mexico.

Lifting the federal ban will allow states to decide whether to allow deep-sea energy exploration off their coasts.

“Besides reducing energy prices for Americans, lifting the federal ban will allow states to share in the royalties for energy retrieved off their coasts. This is a commonsense step toward increasing American energy independence.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that America imported 3.68 billion barrels of oil from the Persian Gulf in 2007. According to the Wall Street Journal, rescinding the ban on offshore drilling “could open up as much as 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 86 billion barrels of oil on the Outer Continental Shelf to development.”

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