Letter to the Honorable Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader and the Honorable Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader

36 Senators Sign Letter to Protect American Energy Freedom Day

Letter pledges to oppose Democrat attempts to extend drilling ban beyond October 1

Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, announced that 36 Senators have signed the letter to protect October 1 as American Energy Freedom Day, and to "actively oppose" any attempt to extend bans on offshore drilling and oil shale beyond their expiration at the end of September. U.S. Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) is gathering signatures to a similar letter in the House of Representatives.

"The overwhelming majority of Republican Senators have pledged to protect October 1 as American Energy Freedom Day so we can reduce dependence on foreign oil and lower the cost of gas at the pump," said Senator DeMint. "Many people aren't aware that the bans on drilling must be renewed every year, and all we have to do is allow these prohibitions to expire on October 1. In just 50 days, Americans will have the freedom to pursue their own energy resources here at home. Our letter is very straightforward: we will actively oppose any effort to extend the bans on offshore drilling and oil shale."

"There's been a great response already, but frankly, every senator should sign on because it's irrational to say "no" to proven American energy during this crisis. We plan to send this letter to Harry Reid after the Senate returns in September. During the next few weeks, Americans should contact their Senator and ask them to sign the letter to protect American Energy Freedom Day."

"I encourage all of my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to stand with Americans who are hurting from high gas prices and sign this letter as a first step to increasing American energy supplies," said Senator DeMint. Senator DeMint will also be touring 14 cities throughout South Carolina this week to discuss the need to increase American energy supplies. He will host two separate town halls and make a number of other public appearances where he will highlight this topic.

To date, the following Senators have signed the letter: Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Wayne Allard (R-Colorado), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Bob Bennett (R-Utah), Kit Bond (R-Missouri), Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), John Ensign (R-Nevada), Michael Enzi (R-Wyoming), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), Mel Martinez (R-Florida), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Pat Roberts (R-), Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), Richard Shelby(R-Alabama), Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), John Sununu (R-New Hampshire), David Vitter (R-Louisiana), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), John Warner (R-Virginia), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi).

Text of the letter below:

Dear Senators Reid and McConnell,

It is our hope that Democrats and Republicans will stand together to support American Energy Freedom Day on October 1, 2008. On this day, the current prohibitions on oil and gas exploration off the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and in the oil-shale fields of the West will expire, giving Americans the freedom to access their own energy and providing them with relief from sky-high prices at the pump.

We strongly encourage you to allow the expiration of these prohibitions on American energy exploration and production, as scheduled under current law, and we will actively oppose any attempt to extend them. Now is not the time to deny Americans access to their own energy supply.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to working with you to ensure a victory for the American people on American Energy Freedom Day.

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