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South Carolina Radio Network - Duncan Calls for Stepped Up Oil Exploration

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By Tom Hayes

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S is spiraling toward $4.00 a gallon as spring approaches. The price of oil has escalated as the situation in the Middle East remains volatile.

South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan says the recent rise in prices illustrates the importantance for the U.S. to lessen its dependence on foreign oil by stepping up exploration both on land and offshore. The Obama Administration placed a moratorium on offshore drilling after the major oil spill by the BP Corporation nearly two years ago. Duncan says that moratorium slowed domestic production.

After a yearlong moratorium, BP and its partners resumed drilling in the Gulf of Mexico Monday. On February 2, a federal judge in New Orleans ruled that Interior Department regulators acted with "determined disregard" by lifting and reinstituting a series of policy changes. Those changes restricted offshore drilling after the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history when a BP drilling rig exploded-- spewing an estimated 4.1 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.

Duncan says stepping up domestic exploration is good for the economy. He noted the current three percent unemployment rate in North Dakota as that state has escalated its harvesting of crude out of the Bakken Oil Field.

He pointed out neighboring Montana, which also contains the Bakken Field, has a much higher jobless rate because most of that is federal land closed to new exploration. Most of the North Dakota land is private or state-owned.

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