Bush: Lift ban on offshore oil drilling

06/18/08 Mitch E. Perry
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President Bush called on Congress today to lift a 26-year-old ban on oil drilling off the shores of the United States, arguing that the country needs more domestic energy production to alter the circumstances that are driving up oil prices.

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Bush said if Congress removes the ban it first imposed in 1982, he would lift an executive order that also prohibits drilling for oil and gas on the U.S. outer continental shelf. That executive order was issued in 1990 by Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush.

Bush also called again for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, and called for Congress to allow access to oil shale that exists in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.

Bush blamed Congressional Democrats for the record high gas prices citizens are facing.

Bush’s speech follows John McCain’s call yesterday to allow voters a choice.

Barack Obama says he’s not for breaking the moratorium, nor are seemingly most Democrats in Washington, and across the country. In a conference call set up by the Obama campaign this afternoon, North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley said this was another bad example of McCain and Bush marching in lockstep.

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine said he was stunned that McCain has changed his position on this environmental issue.

Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham calls McCain’s plan flawed, because it takes the country’s eyes off controlling its energy destiny. Graham was asked: Does the fact that McCain, Charlie Crist and George W. Bush are now supporting a call for oil drilling off Florida’s coast mean that the issue is no longer a sensitive one for Florida voters? Or have they in fact made a mistake by arguing for an issue still unpopular in Florida?

Graham said the issue was bigger than just for people who live in California or along the Gulf Coast.

Larry Sabato is a political analyst and the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. He says McCain's shift from opposing oil drilling to supporting it is a double-edged sword for the Arizona senator. And Sabato said the fact that Crist has made such an aboutface on the issue is a clear indication as to how much Crist wants to be McCain’s running mate.

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