President Bush — almost sounding like former Speaker Newt Gingrich — pushed for offshore oil drilling on America’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) yesterday, urging Congress to lift the legislative ban on exploration in that area.
As the nation’s gas prices skyrocketed again this week — in some places up to $4.30/gallon — Democrats’ opposition to in-country drilling faces heavy criticism.
Bush said his administration has “repeatedly called on Congress to expand domestic oil production” but “Democrats on Capitol Hill have rejected virtually every proposal.”
Offshore drilling, banned under a 1981 federal moratorium, could produce years of sufficient oil production. But the practice is frowned on by environmentalists even though recent technological advances make it possible to drill without harming the natural environments.
“With these advances — and a dramatic increase in oil prices — congressional restrictions on OCS exploration have become outdated and counterproductive,” said Bush.
Republicans in Congress have put forth several measures to lift the legislative ban on exploration but they need Democratic support to move forward.
Aside form the OCS regions, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) holds millions of barrels of oil just waiting to be brought to market but Bill Clinton vetoed a 1995 bill that would have allowed production there. Since then, those in search of energy independence from dangerous foreign nations, have encouraged drilling in ANWR despite protests to keep the area “pristine.”
The 2,000 acres of oil availability in ANWR make up only .01% of the entire wilderness area but America could extract 10.4 billion barrels of oil if permitted. That amount equals about 20 years of imported crude oil from Saudi Arabia. Like the OCS drilling technologies, scientists have created techniques to avoid disrupting wildlife in the area.
Since Clinton vetoed this opportunity, Bush said the price of oil has “increased seven-fold and the price of gasoline has almost tripled.”
Bush also proposed tapping into oil shale, a rock that produces oil when exposed to heat. He spoke of a deposit in the Green River Basin in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, where there are “about 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil.” That amount equals more than three times the “proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia,” according to Bush.
Bush said America must also “expand and enhance” refining capacities around the nation by building new refineries and updating old ones. That way, oil companies can lower prices by not having to import already refined product. Bush proposed a reform process requiring refineries and other energy project permits to be “brought before the DC Circuit of Appeals within 60 days of the issuance of a permit decision.”
Energy economists recognize the oil crisis as a basic problem of supply and demand, whereas America has the capacity to remedy the situation simply by scooping into our own resources. That solution will not only decrease gas prices, but also decrease reliance on foreign oil, which creates a conflict of interest in other policy areas as well.
Bush said “some of that energy comes from unstable regions and unfriendly regimes” so it’s puzzling why Democrats are so hard up to explore local areas.
“This makes us more vulnerable to supply shocks and price spikes beyond our control,” Bush said of foreign oil markets. “That puts both our economy and our security at risk.”
With so many options, President Bush and Republicans hope Democrats will put aside environmental concerns in favor of increased energy independence, freedom and lower gas prices. That outcome seems highly unlikely, given the Dems absolute dedication to the global warming cult.