Massachusetts Rep. Edward J. Markey, who chairs the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, sent Bush a letter on Tuesday asking the president "to determine whether [he has] the authority to take action to immediately halt all exports of U.S. oil, and if not, to work with Congress to give the Executive Branch authority to protect America's vital resources."
The letter comes days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who created Markey's select committee last year to combat global warming, signaled her intent to allow a vote on legislation opening more federally protected water for oil and gas exploration. Citing Department of Energy figures, Markey argues the estimated 200,000 barrels a day that could be pumped from the Outer Continental Shelf by 2030 represents a fraction of the 1.8 million barrels of oil that drillers are currently exporting from the U.S. each day, as of this past May .
Markey argues that those exports represents nearly 10 percent of the country's daily oil consumption at a time when gas prices remain high — and lawmakers are scrambling to address that increase before the November election.
"Sending America's vital energy resources overseas during our time of need should stop," Markey told Bush in the letter. "Continuing to allow oil companies to export domestically produced oil at a time of near-record gas prices is only exacerbating our current energy crisis. It is imperative that action be taken to immediately halt all shipments of domestically produced oil overseas to protect American consumers."
In the letter, Markey acknowledges that Bush might not have the authority to stop these exports, so, at the very least, this latest missive introduces a new figure — 1.8 million barrels a day — into an energy debate that already has quite a few stats — 68 million acres, anyone?