In Washington on Tuesday, American President George Bush pushed legislators to remove an offshore oil drilling ban. Asserting that the U.S. Congress should revoke this ban, President Bush declared that the Congress is the “only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources”.
The ban in question is a law enacted in 1981, and although President Bush withdrew an executive order to the same effect, the 1981 law still holds good. Unless the Congress lifts this ban, offshore drilling cannot take place. The Democrats in the Congress are against repealing the offshore drilling ban. Bush feels that as far as revoking the ban is concerned, the “sooner the better”.
According to Bush, the Democrats, who have not taken up the cause of offshore drilling, have the chance to ease the situation as far as American citizens are concerned. The Democrats should, he said, “match the action I have taken, repeal the congressional ban and pass legislation to facilitate responsible offshore exploration.”
The Republicans in the Congress added their voices to Bush’s appeal to revoke the offshore drilling ban. Republican from Ohio John Boehner charged the Democrats in Congress of acting as a barrier to producing “more American-made energy”. Boehner also felt that exploration for oil should be carried out in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and sand containing oil in the West should be processed. The Democrats have been against AVWR oil exploration as they are concerned about destroying the delicate balance of the Arctic environment.
The Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky that current price of gas is too high. McConnell said, “$4-a-gallon gasoline is unacceptable to the American people and unacceptable to the Republicans in Congress, and we want to do something about it. And doing something about it involves both finding more and using less. We need to do both.”
In opposition, Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker form California said that offshore drilling expansion would not do much to bring gasoline prices down. Pelosi said a better way to lower gas prices at once would be to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which holds 700 million barrels of oil. President Bush however, feels that this would endanger national security. Pelosi’s reply to this is: “The president said … that drilling offshore would not have an impact on the price at the pump, and I’m glad he’s finally admitted that to the American people. Our message back to the president is, ‘It’s the economy, Mr. President.’”
Representatives of coastal states such as California and Florida have also objected to the proposed lifting of the ban on offshore drilling.
On Monday afternoon, the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, said, in disagreement with Bush’s efforts to increase offshore drilling, “I know people are frustrated with the soaring price of gas, and I welcome the national debate on solutions to lower our energy costs, but in California, we know offshore drilling is not the answer. We will continue to foster a market for alternative energies, because choice is the only way we will ultimately bring down fuel costs.”
Bush, on the other hand, felt that removing the prohibition on offshore drilling would give the message that Americans are ready to exploit their own oil reserves and would “send a signal that we’re willing to explore for … oil here at home.”
The President said, “I fully understand this is … a transition period away from hydrocarbons. But we ought to be wise about how we … use our own resources.”
The primary basis for resistance to offshore drilling is the damage to reefs that such drilling can cause, but President Bush said that it is possible to drill for oil without harming underwater reefs.
Bush said that as a fisherman who likes fishing, he is concerned about the reefs and is aware how vital they are for fisheries. However, he also added that modern technology makes it possible to access oil under a reef by drilling vertically at some distance from it and then drilling horizontally to the exact location of the oil.