Susan Walsh/AP
An off-shore oil rig off the coast of
Louisiana damaged by Hurricane Rita. (AP)

Bush Lifts Offshore Drilling Ban, But No Lift for Drivers

July 15, 2008 10:41 AM
by Denis Cummings
President Bush announced the end of the executive ban on offshore oil drilling, but Congress must still lift its legislative ban for drilling to commence.

30-Second Summary

President George W. Bush rescinded an executive ban on offshore drilling Wednesday and called for Congress to follow suit. “This means that the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is action from the U.S. Congress,” Bush said.

The current Congressional ban expires September 30. The White House has urged Congress to give states the right to decide whether there can be offshore drilling of their coastlines.

There has been a federal moratorium in place since 1981, instituted by Congress in response to Interior Secretary James Watt’s plan to expand offshore drilling. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush instituted an executive ban on drilling.

President Bush has spoken against the ban since arriving in office in 2000. He has gained support over the past several months, as high oil prices have driven the cost of gas above $4 a gallon. Republican presidential candidate John McCain ended his long-time opposition to drilling last month.

Opponents to the drilling argue that lifting the ban will have little to no effect on oil prices, as it will take several years before drilling can even begin. Even then, they contend, the price of oil will not drop significantly.

Wednesday’s decision is largely symbolic, both because Congress has yet to act and because of the years it would take to begin drilling. However, several economists believe that the mere perception that oil prices will drop in the future will be enough to lower oil prices in the short-term.

Headline Link: Bush lifts ban

Background: Support for offshore drilling

Historical Context: Offshore drilling bans

Opinion & Analysis: Will drilling affect oil prices?


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