Bush Seeks Offshore Drilling, Exploitation of Oil Shales and ANWR

With pressure mounting on U.S. leaders to combat soaring gasoline prices, President Bush called on Congress today to approve a sweeping series of measures that would open environmentally sensitive areas to oil and gas exploration. Among the measures proposed by the president are lifting the 26-year ban on drilling for oil off the east and west U.S. coasts and the extraction of oil from shale deposits on federal land. He called once again for drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, claiming that now “scientists have developed innovative techniques to reach ANWR’s oil with virtually no impact on the land or local wildlife.”

Bush said that Democratic opposition to such plans is one reason why Americans are paying record prices for gas. Democrats dismissed the president’s initiatives, saying they would have little impact on prices. The presumptive Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, also has announced his support for coastal drilling. Should Congress lift the ban, drilling is unlikely to take place within 100 miles of the coast but rather will occur on the continental shelf 100 to 200 miles offshore. The ban, which does not apply to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, was first imposed by Congress in 1982 and was reinforced by an executive order signed in 1990 by Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush.