Democratic News

The GOP chairmen controlling the House-Senate energy conference are insisting that the federal government needs to conduct an inventory of the nation’s offshore oil and gas resources beneath the waters of the Outer Continental Shelf, even though most of those waters are protected by a long-standing moratorium against drilling. In fact, for more than 20 years, bipartisan legislative and administrative actions have enhanced protection of moratoria areas from offshore oil and gas development. Efforts to include this inventory in the energy bill were defeated by the House in April, and the energy bill that the Senate passed in July contains no such provision. However, this provision has resurfaced in the draft conference report, illustrating that what the energy conference is supposed to be about (reconciling the House bill and the Senate bill that actually passed) and what this energy conference is actually about are two different things. While Sen. Bingaman is not opposed to an inventory, many people are -- including the governor of Florida, who has written to the conference leaders. (You may recall that, on the 2000 campaign trail, the Brothers Bush declared over and over that there would be no new oil and gas activities off Florida’s coasts. This contrasts with the line in the Sept. 10 Statement of Administration Policy on the bill, which seems to embrace the inventory as a provision to increase production of “traditional energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf.”) # # #