June 18, 2008
Now Bush says open up the OCS
Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Senator John W. McCain made a plea for an end to a ban on offshore drilling signed by the current President's father.
Today, the current President Bush took to the Rose Garden to echo that plea.
Addressing the issue of rising gasoline prices, the President noted that the long term answer to the problem is to reduce demand for oil by promoting alternative energy technologies.
But he said that, in the short run, the American economy will continue to rely largely on oil.
"Congress must face a hard reality: Unless Members are willing to accept gas prices at today's painful levels -- or even higher -- our nation must produce more oil." he said. "And we must start now. So this morning, I ask Democratic Congressional leaders to move forward with four steps to expand American oil and gasoline production.
"First, we should expand American oil production by increasing access to the Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS. Experts believe that the OCS could produce about 18 billion barrels of oil. That would be enough to match America's current oil production for almost ten years. The problem is that Congress has restricted access to key parts of the OCS since the early 1980s. Since then, 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. With these advances -- and a dramatic increase in oil prices -- congressional restrictions on OCS exploration have become outdated and counterproductive.
"Republicans in Congress have proposed several promising bills that would lift the legislative ban on oil exploration in the OCS. I call on the House and the Senate to pass good legislation as soon as possible. This legislation should give the states the option of opening up OCS resources off their shores, provide a way for the federal government and states to share new leasing revenues, and ensure that our environment is protected. There's also an executive prohibition on exploration in the OCS. When Congress lifts the legislative ban, I will lift the executive prohibition."
The second, third and fourth steps of the Bush proposal are: reversal of a provision In last year's omnibus spending bill, that blocks oil shale leasing on federal lands, permitting exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and measures to expedite the refinery permitting process.