July 14 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush said today he's lifting a presidential ban on drilling for oil and natural gas on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, setting up a showdown with Congress over a separate ban it put in place in the 1980s.
``Today I've taken every step within my power to allow offshore exploration of the OCS,'' Bush said in a statement at the White House. ``This means the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is action by the U.S. Congress.''
Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress rejected the president's call, saying the move to end the moratorium would have no effect on prices and better options are available.
Pressure to permit drilling off the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean coastlines and in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico has been building as oil and gasoline prices have surged to records.
About 17.8 billion barrels and 76 trillion cubic feet of gas are off-limits to drilling as a result of congressional and presidential moratoria, according to the Minerals Management Service, an agency of the U.S. Interior Department.
The oil available would amount to just over two years of U.S. consumption. Bush today said the potential reserve from the restricted areas would last almost 10 years.
Democrats have blocked congressional efforts to lift the ban, arguing that Republican estimates of available energy resources are overstated and doing so would have no short-term effect. Democrats in both chambers are pushing legislation to force oil companies to start drilling on 68 million acres where they already hold leases.
I don't give a damn about short-term effect. Does this help long term? Yes it does. It increases the supply as the demand increases. Everyone knows about supply and demand.
Now drilling is not the only solution, but it is ONE IMPORTANT aspect of the solution as it helps dillute the power of countries that hate us, and also helps bridge an eventual transition away from oil.