From CBS News' John Bentley:
ARLINGTON, VA. – As John McCain rolls out his energy policy this week, he called for a lifting of the federal moratorium preventing states from exploring for oil off of their coasts. "They have to be lifted so that states can make those decisions," McCain said. "I'm not dictating to the states that they drill or they engage in oil exploration, I am saying that the moratoria should be lifted so that they have the opportunity to do so. By the way, I would also like to see perhaps additional incentives…in the form of tangible financial rewards if the states decide to lift those moratoria."
Searching for offshore oil and gas deposits was banned in 1981 by the Outer Continental Shelf moratorium, which prevents the leasing of coastal waters for fossil fuel development. Roughly 85 percent of U.S. coastal areas are currently protected by the moratorium. McCain's Democratic rival, Barack Obama, voted against a Senate measure last March that would have lifted the ban, and has spoken out against offshore drilling, calling it a "short-term solution."
McCain admitted offshore drilling would only be helpful in the short term, but would provide a good start in helping the U.S. develop other sources of energy. "We must embark on a national mission to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gases through the development of alternate energy sources," McCain said. "Exploration is a step toward the longer term goal."