Bush urges to lift ban on offshore oil drilling (Lead, Changing Dateline)

June 18th, 2008 - 11:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 18 (DPA) President George W. Bush Wednesday called on the Congress to lift a decades-old ban on drilling for oil off the coast of US in order to address sky rocketing feul prices in the country. Bush said the federal ban was “outdated and counterproductive”, threatening the US economy and national security as the country becomes more and more dependent on imported oil often from hostile foreign nations.

Bush’s call came one day after Republican presidential candidate John McCain made the same plea to end the broad moratorium, which begun in 1982, and was expanded eight years later. The measure currently bars new licences for offshore drilling except in the Gulf Coast states of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and off parts of Alaska.

While the US in the long term would have to reduce its dependence on oil in general, Bush insisted supplies would have to be boosted to keep petrol prices from rising in the shorter term.

“For many Americans there is no more pressing concern than the price of gasoline,” Bush said. “Families across the country are looking to Washington for a response.”

Democrats have strongly opposed lifting the ban on offshore drilling, saying it will harm the environment and tourism off the coastlines of Florida and California.

Bush also called for expediting the process for building new refineries in the US, as well as exploring for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge of Alaska. The area’s status as an environmental sanctuary has long been under dispute, though McCain has also rejected drilling in the area.

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