Bush lifts one drilling ban, targets another

07/14/08 Mitch E. Perry
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President George Bush announced today that by executive order he was lifting a presidential moratorium on drilling for oil and natural gas on the Outer Continental Shelf, hoping to prod Congress to act to clear the way for exploration along the nation’s coastline in response to soaring energy prices.

However, the moratorium on offshore drilling imposed by Congress back in 1981 still exists. But Bush left no doubt that he wanted Congress to end its 27-year-old prohibition.

The question is how the Democratic Congress will react. In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi reacted last week by saying offshore drilling was a hoax, and she urged Bush to release oil from the Strategy Petroleum Reserve for U.S. consumption.

But other Democrats, like Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, and No. 2 in the Senate, Illinois’ Dick Durbin, have indicated that they might support opening up new areas for offshore oil and gas drilling.

However, Florida Democrats Kathy Castor and Bill Nelson are not singing that tune.

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