House Democrats to Let Ban on Drilling Expire.
Congressional Democrats bowed to political pressure yesterday and agreed to let the ban on offshore oil drilling expire, a decision that would allow exploration just three miles off the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines unless the next president reinstates an executive branch order that prohibits drilling."Frankly, there is no shortage of oil, simply a shortage of effort to get it out of the ground." -- A.C. Bedford, geologist, 1917
Democrats said they gave in to White House demands rather than risk a showdown over the "continuing resolution" Congress must pass to fund the federal government through March. A new drilling moratorium would have been included in that wide-ranging measure. Provisions seeking money for home heating assistance for the poor and a loan program for the auto industry remain in the bill.
"At least temporarily, the moratorium is lifted. This next election will decide what our drilling policy is going to be," said Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee.