October 16, 2003

"GOP Proposal May End Coastal Drilling Ban"

Here is the other burning issue raised by DULY elected
Gov. Gray Davis (D-CA) and Arriana Huffington
(I-CA)but ignored by Conan the Deceiver's helpers in
the news media...Of course, I do not think it was
raised at the _resident press conference today with
the "People's governor." Another disgrace.


GOP Proposal May End Coastal Drilling Ban
Wed Oct 15, 3:40 AM ET Add Politics - AP to My Yahoo!

By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - House Republicans are drafting a proposal
that would end the federal ban on offshore oil and gas
drilling, while giving states greater say on whether
they want energy development in their coastal waters,
congressional sources say.

The GOP sources said the proposal, being developed by
the Republican staff of the House Resources Committee,
has yet to be fashioned into formal legislation and
hasn't been reviewed by key lawmakers, including the
panel's chairman.

But the proposal comes as many congressional Democrats
and moderate Republicans are concerned about growing
pressure to ease restrictions on offshore oil and gas
development. These concerns were fueled by a push in
the Senate to require a new inventory of gas and oil
resources in all offshore waters as part of a broad
energy bill moving toward final approval.

Most of the country's Outer Continental Shelf has been
off limits to oil and gas exploration or development
since 1982. The White House has said it has no
intention of lifting the current ban, which expires in

But a spokesman for the House Resources Committee
acknowledged that the panel's staff was working on "an
idea for legislation" that would replace the existing
federal drilling bans that have blocked oil and gas
development across most coastal waters outside the
central and western Gulf of Mexico.

Brian Kennedy, the committee spokesman, emphasized
that no legislation was imminent and that Rep. Richard
Pombo, R-Calif, the panel's chairman, "in no way,
shape or form supports lifting the current (drilling)
moratoria off the coast of California or anywhere

In fact, he said, Pombo has not seen the draft
proposal, described largely as "talking points" being
discussed by the committee staff.

According to Kennedy and other congressional sources,
the proposal would replace the federal drilling
moratoria in place since 1982 with a system in which
states largely decide whether to accept or override
energy development as far as 100 miles from shore.

States could veto all or parts of federal oil and gas
leasing plans developed by the federal Interior
Department. But as an incentive to accept drilling,
states also would be given a substantial share in
royalty payments from the oil and gas that is
produced, according to a summary of the proposal.

Federal and state royalty sharing would be determined
by the extent to which states allow production.

The proposal was first reported by the trade
publication Energy Daily, which said it was being
pushed not so much by the petroleum industry as by
large natural gas consumers and the makers of ocean
drilling equipment and platforms.

Some environmentalists viewed the proposal as an
attempt to get support for offshore drilling from
states with severe budget problems even states like
California where there is overwhelming political
support for the current drilling moratoria but also a
budget crunch.

Carl Pope, president of the Sierra Club, said there is
a "very strong public sentiment" for continued
protection of coastal waters from oil and gas
development and that he doubts many states would take
the GOP bait. "This moratoria has pretty deep roots."

The petroleum industry has argued for some time that
substantial gas reserves could be developed in some of
the off-limits areas such as off the Carolinas and in
the eastern Gulf of Mexico near Florida. Recently a
report by the National Petroleum Council predicted
shortages of natural gas in the near future if all
potential resources, including those offshore, are not

The Bush administration has said it has no intention
of tampering with the OCS moratoria that were first
imposed by Congress on a yearly basis in the 1980s,
and in 1990 were extended for 10 years by the first
President Bush. In 1998, President Clinton extended
them again to 2012.

Under the ban, waters along both the East and West
coasts as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico and some
waters off Alaska are protected from oil and gas
development. Waters in the central and western Gulf,
where most offshore oil and gas development has
occurred, are not affected.

Posted by richard at October 16, 2003 09:04 PM