September 17, 2008
Bush threatens to veto offshore drilling bill
The White House has threatened to veto a bill passed by the House by a vote of 236 to 189 that would allow drilling as close as 50 miles from the U.S. coast with state agreement and 100 miles out no matter a state's position.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act would result in 85 percent of the total oil available on the Outer Continental Shelf being open for leasing -- while still protecting beaches and critical coastal industries.
Republican's dispute this saying it keeps to much of the Outer Continental Shelf off limits.
"At a time when American families are in need of genuine relief from the effects of high fuel prices, this bill purports to open access to American energy sources while in reality taking actions to stifle development," the White House said in a statement reported by Reuters
House minority leader John Boehner called the bill "a hoax on the American peope" that "won't do a damn thing about energy" because the vast majority of known offshore oil is within 50 miles of shore and because it would not promote the development of nuclear plants or coal-to-liquids technologies.
The American Petroleum Institute opposes the legislation because it includes $6 billion in fees on oil companies to help pay for alternative energy development.
Cynical political observers say that what Republicans like least about the bill is that it robs them of their "Drill, Baby, Drill" election slogan.
The measure now goes to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain, but where a bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers has been working on a compromise that would lift a drilling ban in the eastern Gulf near Florida, and allow Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia to approve offshore drilling.
Without Congressional action of some sort, the existing ban on offshore drilling on the OCS will automatically expire. The future of any measure seeking to simply extend the ban is also problematic. Republicans have threatened to filibuster any bill containing an extension of the ban--even if it is tacked onto the continuing resolution needed to fund U.S. Government spending.