Monday, July 14, 2008

Bush lifts presidential ban on U.S. offshore drilling

U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday lifted the executive order prohibiting offshore drilling along much of the U.S. coastline.

The move — aimed at stimulating exploration and easing supply worries — still won't amount to much, however, unless the U.S. Congress decides to scrap its own ban on offshore exploration.

Drilling along the U.S. coast — except for part of the western shore line of the Gulf of Mexico and parts of Alaska — has been prohibited for 27 years. Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, was the first president to sign the executive ban.

"The only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is action from the U.S. Congress," Bush said in a statement in the Rose Garden. "Now the ball is squarely in Congress' court."

A White House spokesperson admitted Bush's move on Monday will not be enough, in itself, to allow more energy exploration.

Last month, Bush called for an end for the offshore drilling ban, but he insisted at the time that Congress must lift its ban before he would lift the executive ban.

The area under the ban includes about 232 million hectares of coastal water, which are thought to contain undersea reserves of 18 billion barrels of oil and 77 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the U.S. Interior Department.

With files from the Associated Press

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