After months of demanding that Democrats lift the ban on offshore drilling, Republicans have gotten their wish.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.) told reporters Tuesday evening that Democrats were removing the ban from the continuing budget resolution because of a White House veto threat.
But they've vowed to fight another day.
"Chairman Obey negotiated the best package he could get with the White House to take a budget standoff off the table so we can address the larger Bush financial crisis,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill “The White House made it clear any new drilling provision was a non-starter. The future resolution of offshore drilling will have to be addressed with a new President.”
If true, said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), “this capitulation by Democrats following months of Republican pressure is a big victory for Americans struggling with record gasoline prices,”
The drilling moratorium will be lifted Oct. 1, but don't expect to see oil rigs from the beaches anytime soon.
“Though it may serve folks’ interests to suggest otherwise, Exxon doesn’t get to paddle three miles off the coast of Cape May, drop a drill bit, and start pumping up oil on Oct. 1 if this moratorium expires,” said Chris Tucker, a spokesman for House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “The only ban that will be lifted on October 1 is the one on the Interior Department doing its job. And even without the moratoria, bureaucracy will ensure that job takes years to complete,”
The current moratorium prevents the Interior Department from studying the impact of offshore drilling. Without such research, drilling leases can’t go forward. When the ban expires, the studies will still need to be completed before drilling can begin. And such research can take up to five years or more.
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