U.S. President George Bush wants Congress to expand offshore oil drilling. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, opposition Democrats want companies to start by drilling on land they are already leasing.
It has been four months since President Bush first asked opposition Democrats in Congress to expand offshore oil drilling. In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush says their failure to act has limited domestic production.
"The American people overwhelmingly support this proposal. But throughout the summer, the leaders of the Democratic Congress refused to allow it to come to a vote."
President Bush wants Congress to allow more drilling on America's Outer Continental Shelf, expand access to oil shale, and extend tax credits on renewable power to encourage the development of alternative sources of energy including wind and solar.
In the Democratic radio address, Connecticut Congressman John Larson says Democrats will bring to Congress this month a bipartisan energy bill that allows for some additional offshore drilling. But he says oil companies must also exploit the more than 27 million hectares of land they are already leasing from the federal government.
He says President Bush and Republican lawmakers favor more drilling over finding alternatives to fossil fuels.
"They offer nothing but the empty mantra of drill, drill, drill. Democrats support drilling, but a drill-only plan would do nothing but drill deeper and deeper into your wallet. And look, while the oil companies have remained flush, your wallet is running dry."
Larson says Democrats want the president to release more oil from the nation's strategic reserves to reduce gasoline prices. He says Democrats intend to remove speculators from the energy futures market.
Public opinion polls show voter concern about high energy prices is second only to the economy and the war in Iraq.
President Bush says it is up to Democrats to prove to voters that they are serious about lowering gasoline prices.
"This Congress has earned a reputation as one of the least productive in history. Throughout this year, Democratic leaders have ignored the public's demand for relief from high energy prices. This is their final chance to take action before the November elections. If members of Congress do not support the American people at the gas pump, then they should not expect the American people to support them at the ballot box."
Two-thirds of Americans disapprove of how the president is doing his job. Democratic presidential nominee Illinois Senator Barack Obama wants to link the unpopular president with his party's nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain.
Larson continued that effort in the Democratic radio address, saying President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have put oil companies ahead of consumers.
"For eight years, two oil men in the White House have crafted this country's energy policy. And for eight years, big oil has raked-in unprecedented profits. Barack Obama summed-up our sentiment on the Bush/McCain policy in one word: enough."
The price of oil fell this week as Hurricane Gustav did less damage to Gulf Coast production facilities than originally feared.