Smith: Stop Blocking Development of American Energy
Congressman Lamar Smith today issued the following statement on President Bush's announcement that he will lift the executive ban on the exploration of oil and gas in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) far off U.S. shores:
"Now, the only remaining obstacle to sensible American energy policy is the Democratic Majority's unwillingness to allow any votes on the issue. Environmentally-responsible deepwater oil and gas exploration can reduce our dependence on foreign oil and ease prices at the pump, yet the majority still refuses to act, even as gas prices continue to skyrocket and household budgets feel the impact.
"Unlike many of the federal tracts where drilling is currently permitted, America's OCS is estimated to contain nearly 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough oil to replace our OPEC imports for 50 years and enough natural gas to supply U.S. needs for 30 years.
"Opening up the OCS is an important part of a comprehensive approach to reducing the cost of energy. In the near-term, demonstrating our willingness to develop American energy can immediately affect the oil futures market, lower the speculative cost per barrel of oil, and provide relief at the pump. In the long-term, the energy problem will only be solved through a variety of means, including conservation and promoting the use of alternative energy. Developing American supplies of oil and gas can buy the time we need to advance alternative energy sources and reach energy independence."
NOTE: President Bush announced today that he will lift the 1990 presidential directive that orders the Interior Department not to issue oil and gas leases in deep ocean energy zones. Recent public opinion polling shows that two-thirds of Americans support increased, environmentally-safe domestic energy production - both in deep ocean energy zones and on remote federal lands - as a chief component of those reforms. With today's announcement by the President, only the Democratic leaders of Congress stand in the way of such exploration to occur in deepwater energy reserves.