In his weekly radio address, U.S. President George Bush once again
urged Congress to lift its long-standing ban on offshore oil-and-gas
drilling to increase U.S. energy production. Mr. Bush said Democrats in
Congress are blocking his proposals, and, as a result, are partly to
blame for high gasoline costs. VOA's Mary Motta has this report from
U.S. President George Bush focused on the price of gas in making his case for offshore drilling.
fundamental problem behind high gas prices is that the supply of oil
has not kept up with the rising demand across the world. One obvious
solution is for America to increase our domestic oil production," he
Earlier this week, President Bush called on the U.S.
Congress to lift a 27-year-old moratorium on offshore oil-and-gas
drilling, putting himself in the middle of an election-year debate over
By urging lawmakers to lift the federal ban and
induce coastal states to open up more areas of the outer continental
shelf to exploration, Mr. Bush reinforced a similar proposal by Senator
John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate. Senator
Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, opposes it.
his radio address Saturday, Mr. Bush stepped up his political rhetoric.
Because rising energy costs have become a top issue for voters, Mr.
Bush and his fellow Republicans are seeking to portray Democrats as
standing in the way of measures to help lower gasoline prices.
know Democratic leaders have opposed some of these policies in the
past," he added. "Now that their opposition has helped drive gas
prices to record levels, I ask them to reconsider their positions. If
congressional leaders leave for the Fourth of July recess without
taking action, they will need to explain why $4-a-gallon gasoline is
not enough incentive for them to act."
Democratic leaders signaled they would not budge.
Nick Rahall, a Democrat from West Virginia, said Mr. Bush's proposal
will not bring the type of relief Americans need at the gas pump. He
says oil companies are sitting on 68 million acres of federal lands
they have already leased that have the capacity to nearly double U.S.
oil and gas production and cut oil imports by one-third.
oil is stockpiling these leases as they enjoy record profits, while
Americans feel the pain at the pump," he noted. "Simply put, we are
telling big oil to use or lose it."
Mr. Bush's move carries
political risk, because offshore exploration has faced opposition in
Florida, which will be a battleground in the presidential campaign.
Critics of the plan fear it would damage Florida's beaches and drive
Mr. Bush's plan also calls for allowing
exploration and drilling in a portion of the 19 million-acre Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and leasing federal lands to mine
and extract oil from shale in the Green River Basin of Colorado,
Wyoming and Utah.