Washington, DC – President Bush today called on Congress to repeal its 27 year-old ban offshore energy production, but stopped short of eliminating the executive moratorium on production originally established by his father in 1990. The Institute for Energy Research (IER) urged the president last week to exercise his authority to eliminate that ban entirely. Its president, Thomas J. Pyle, renewed that call again today:

“The president has chosen to speak softly when American consumers need him to wield a big stick,” Pyle said. “He has the authority to tear up the executive moratorium immediately, and we believe he should. Eliminating this senseless ban would show the world that the United States is finally getting serious about producing more of its own energy instead of just talking about it. This was a missed opportunity.”

Two outdated federal bans make the U.S. the only developed nation in the world that restricts access to its own offshore energy resources. The Executive Moratorium was instituted in 1990 and is set to expire in 2012, but can be eliminated by the President at any time. The Congressional Moratorium is an annual appropriations rider in Congress. It expires every year and must be renewed annually by a vote in the Congress. Neither have the force of permanent law.

Facts About Outer-Continental Shelf (OCS) Energy:

  • 97 percent of America’s 1.76 billion acres of OCS lands are not being used for their energy potential.
  • The U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) estimates that the outer continental shelf contains nearly 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. (The U.S. consumes roughly 7.5 billion barrels of oil and 23 trillion cubic feet of natural gas annually). This estimate is conservative, at best, because it has been illegal to explore; we simply have not looked.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy issued an extensive report – the Environmental Benefits of Advanced Oil and Gas Explorations and Production Technology – outlining the innovations that make oil and gas production safe, even in sensitive environments.
  • According to National Academy of Sciences research, the vast majority of oil found in North American oceans comes as a result of natural seeps from the ocean floor and transportation, not production.

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) is a not-for-profit public foundation that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets. Founded in 1989, IER is funded entirely by tax deductible contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. No financial support is sought for or accepted from government (taxpayers).



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