Republicans keep pushing for offshore oil drilling

07/11/08 Mitch E. Perry
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President George Bush urged Congress today to open offshore waters and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to oil drilling.

In comments to reporters following a meeting with his economic team at the Department of Energy, Bush said one of the main reasons for high gas prices is because demand for crude oil is exceeding supply.

Bush blamed Democrats in Congress for blocking drilling off the coast and in ANWR, and pressed House leaders to address rising oil prices before the August recess, which could be just a week away.

Congressional Democrats have condemned any thoughts of offshore oil drilling. Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called drilling in protected areas "an absolute hoax on the part of the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans."

But as the Washington Newspaper The Hill reported on Thursday, that might put her at odds with fellow Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Wednesday that expanded offshore drilling is not off the table, and that Democrats will take a look at whether states should be able to choose to drill off their coasts.

A Zogby poll published in late June showed 74 percent in favor of drilling in U.S. coastal waters – and 58 percent of Democrats do as well.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, says he is not opposed to drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast. In an interview recorded Thursday on behalf of the John McCain campaign, Fasano discussed why he supports offshore drilling.

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