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DeMint: Congress Should Lift Drilling Ban Before August Break

July 15, 2008

DeMint: Congress Should Lift Drilling Ban Before August Break

Washington, D.C.Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) applauded President Bush’s decision to lift the executive ban on offshore drilling and called on Congress to end the legislative ban on domestic exploration for oil and natural gas before the House and Senate take an August recess.

“Since Americans can’t just take a break from high gas prices, Congress should not go on summer vacation without ending the Democrat blockade on domestic drilling to reduce energy costs,” said Senator DeMint. “I applaud the President for leading the way by ending the executive ban, and now its time for Democrats in Congress to stop playing political games and allow an immediate up-or-down vote to end the federal ban on offshore drilling.”

“The overwhelming majority of Americans are demanding that Washington use some common sense and allow America to increase our own energy supply to reduce prices at the pump. Sadly, Democrats have blocked energy solutions for decades because they think coal, oil and gas have made Americans ‘sick’ and high gas prices are the way to cure them. It’s time for Democrats to stop saying ‘NO’ to American energy, stop saying ‘NO’ to increasing our own oil and gas supplies, and stop saying ‘NO’ to clean alternative energy like nuclear power.

A recent poll by Rasmussen Reports found that only 9 percent think Congress is doing a good job, falling below a single digit approval rating for the first time ever. Another poll by Zogby International found that 74 percent, or 3 out of every 4 Americans, want Congress to end the offshore drilling ban: “A majority of likely voters across the political spectrum support offshore oil drilling, with vast majorities of Republicans (90 percent) and independents (75 percent) in favor of drilling for oil off U.S. coastal waters more than half of Democrats (58 percent) also said they favor offshore drilling.”

Even U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), while blocking efforts to lift the ban on offshore drilling, has admitted that we must increase the supply of American oil and gas to bring down prices. She stated last week that we need to “expand available supplies and help reduce the record prices that are helping push the economy toward recession.”

News outlets across the country have made the case for ending the ban on domestic energy exploration:

USA Today: “Drilling in ANWR and offshore is an important piece of any long-term strategy to make the nation less vulnerable to oil-producing nations and supply disruptions. It is one of many imperfect steps needed to both increase the supply of oil and curb the demand for it, while seeking energy alternatives.”

The Washington Post: “FOR THE PAST quarter of a century, the federal government has banned oil and gas drilling in most U.S. coastal waters. Efforts to relax the ban have been repelled on environmental grounds, but it is time to revisit this policy. Canada and Norway, two countries that care about the environment, have allowed offshore drilling for years and do not regret it. Offshore oil rigs in the western Gulf of Mexico, one of the exceptions to the ban imposed by Congress, endured Hurricane Katrina without spills. The industry’s safety record is impressive, and it’s even possible that the drilling ban increases the danger of oil spills in coastal waters: Less local drilling means more incoming traffic from oil tankers, which by some reckonings are riskier. Although balancing energy needs with the environment is always hard, the prohibition on offshore extraction cannot be justified.”

Wall Street Journal: “Yet companies are not allowed to explore where the biggest prospects for oil and gas may exist – especially on the Outer Continental Shelf. Seven of the top 20 U.S. oil fields are now located in analogous deepwater areas (greater than 1,000 feet) in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2006, Chevron discovered what is likely to be the largest American oil find since Prudhoe, drilled in 7,000 feet of water and more than 20,000 feet under the sea floor. The Wilcox formation may have an upper end of 15 billion barrels of recoverable oil and should begin producing by 2014 – perhaps ushering in a new ultradeepwater frontier.

Investor’s Business Daily: “That said, 68 million acres is in fact a minuscule amount. Some 94% of federal lands — 658 million acres — remains off-limits to exploration. Another 97% — or 1.7 billion acres — of federal offshore properties likewise remains off-limits. These lands contain tens of billions of barrels of recoverable oil. It’s there for the taking, now.”

New York Post: “Indeed, any steps to boost supplies, such as easing the offshore-drilling ban, can lower prices right away. Why is that? Think about it: More oil (or less demand) down the road will surely push future prices down – reducing incentives for producers, like Saudi Arabia, to keep their black gold in the ground.”

Hilton Head Island Packet: “Gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon and the precarious state of our economy tip the scales in favor of exploring offshore drilling. We’ve long held that the potential environmental risks were not worth the oil or gas to be found, especially for a state whose largest industry is tourism and whose biggest draw is its beaches and coastal areas… But the recent run-up in oil and gasoline prices and the potential positive impact of expanding our domestic supply options make blanket opposition to offshore drilling no longer prudent.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Off-limits coastal areas are estimated by the U.S. Department of the Interior to hold close to 19 billion barrels of recoverable oil, as well as substantial supplies of natural gas. By some estimates, the oil available is the equivalent of about a decade’s worth of U.S. oil production — not enough to end import dependence but enough to smooth the nation’s transition to renewable fuels.”

San Diego Tribune: “[A]dditional offshore drilling could offer some benefits. Those include helping the United States lessen its dependence on foreign oil and reducing long-distance shipments that have led to major oil spills.”

Ohio Plain Dealer: “[I]t’s ridiculous to assert – as the Democrats do – that offshore oil drilling would make no difference in U.S. supplies, or that oil companies should first be forced to drill in areas they’ve already deemed uneconomical or on which they haven’t yet been able to find oil.”

Fort Worth Star Telegram: “The legendary Willie Sutton robbed banks because, as he famously explained, that’s where the money was. The United States should take a cue from the late Sutton. It needs to expand drilling for oil and natural gas in offshore waters because that’s where many of the nation’s biggest untapped petroleum deposits probably can be found. At a time when gasoline prices have soared to the once-unthinkable level of $4 per gallon, the country is more vulnerable than ever in terms of its exceptionally heavy reliance on foreign oil.”

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