Castor, other Democrats blast Bush's oil drilling plan
Tampa Bay Business Journal - by Michael Hinman
Jul 14, 2008 -
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor says if oil companies are interested in drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, they should consider millions of acres already available to them that's not being tapped.
Castor, a Tampa Democrat, called President Bush's executive order to lift the ban on oil drilling off the coasts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas a continued effort to side with the big oil companies. Castor is one of many members of Congress Bush would have to convince to lift the federal ban on oil drilling since his move as an executive order is considered to be purely symbolic.
"Bush's claim that drilling off of coastal Florida will lower gas prices is a hoax and a sham," Castor said in a statement. "Even Florida's biggest pro-business lobby states that drilling off our coast will not do anything to lower gas prices. Instead a comprehensive energy plan is required that targets oil speculators to lower prices, promotes conservation and transit, forces oil companies to drill on the 68 million acres already available to them but not being tapped, and encourages drilling in the national reserve area to more immediately increase our oil supplies."
Bush said 830 billion barrels of oil are being left untapped off American shores because of bans in both the Gulf of Mexico and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska as well as the Green River Basin.
The additional drilling has been supported by Republican presidential candidate John McCain as a way to lower prices.
"I don't see an immediate relief, but I do see that exploitation of existing reserves that may exist, and in view of many experts, that do exist off our coasts, is also a way that we need to provide relief," McCain said last month, MSNBC reported. "Even though it may take some years, the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have psychological impact that I think is beneficial."
McCain's statements also were distributed by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign, while at the same time reiterating Obama's stand that the oil drilling ban should remain in place.
"If offshore drilling would provide short-term relief at the pump or a long-term strategy for energy independence, it would be worthy of our consideration, regardless of the risks," Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said. "But most experts, even within the Bush Administration, concede it would do neither. It would merely prolong the failed energy policies we have seen from Washington for 30 years."
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said Bush expects the Democratically controlled Congress will take his lead in addressing the oil drilling ban in the Gulf.
"What President Bush wanted to do and still seeks to do is to get Congress to work with him because we talked about having two keys that need to be turned at the same time," Perino said during her daily press briefing Monday. "It's become increasingly clear that Congress is not willing to take that step on their own, so President Bush is going to lead, and we hope that they will follow us."
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