U.S. President George Bush is stepping up pressure on Congress to open
up off shore oil exploration. VOA White House Correspondent Paula
Wolfson reports Mr. Bush has lifted an executive order banning offshore
drilling and is urging lawmakers to complete the process by dropping a
President Bush is upping the stakes in his battle with Congress over domestic oil exploration.
order for offshore drilling to resume, both Congress and the president
have to remove existing prohibitions. One was imposed by the
legislature. The other - an executive order - was signed by the
president's father - President George H.W. Bush - in 1990.
were put in place at a time when the environmental concerns linked to
off-shore drilling were high. President Bush says with new technology
in place, and the need for domestic sources of energy rising, the ban
is no longer warranted.
At first, he wanted Congress to take the
lead. But his calls on the legislature to act got no results. And so
Mr. Bush decided to go first, and lift the executive ban as a way to
pressure lawmakers into action.
"With this action, the executive
branch's restrictions on this exploration have been cleared away," said
President Bush. "This means that the only thing standing between the
American people and these vast oil resources is action from the U.S.
Mr. Bush stressed failure to act on the part of
Congress is unacceptable, adding the American people deserve better as
energy prices continue to rise.
"Now the ball is squarely in
Congress' court," he said. "Democratic leaders can show that they have
finally heard the frustrations of the American people by matching the
action I've taken today, repealing the congressional ban, and passing
legislation to facilitate responsible offshore exploration."
president says in addition to opening up more offshore areas to
drilling, Congress must give oil companies access to Alaska's Arctic
Wildlife National Refuge over staunch opposition from environmentalists.
time for action is now," said Mr. Bush. "This is a difficult period for
millions of American families. Every extra dollar they have to spend
because of high gas prices is one dollar less they can use to put food
on the table or send a child to school. And they are rightly angered
by Congress' failure to enact common-sense solutions."
Democratic Party leaders in the legislature say the president's plan
for increased domestic exploration will help the oil companies far more
Senate Majority Leader Henry Reid says more
drilling leases for these companies will not solve the nation's energy
woes. He says they already have drilling access to vast acreage that
is going unexplored.
"Democrats are committed to both long term
and short term solutions to our energy crisis," said Senator Reid. "We
have to use our existing resources better and invest more in clean
alternatives to oil."
The response to the president's actions
from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was blunt. In a written statement, she
said the White House drilling plan is a hoax and is designed to help
big oil companies. Pelosi called on the president once again to
release some of the oil in the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve - a
step the Bush administration has repeatedly rejected.