July 14, 2008
Brian Kennedy (202) 434-8200

Congressional Ban Set to Expire on September 30


Washington, D.C. – The Institute for Energy Research (IER) applauded President Bush’s decision to rescind the executive moratorium on outer continental shelf (OCS) energy production originally established by his father in 1990.  After urging the president to exercise this authority and eliminate the ban more than a month ago, IER president Thomas Pyle issued the following statement:

“The president is eliminating one of the largest barriers standing in the way of new energy supplies, but the biggest one still remains, and it lies in the hands of the Congress,” Pyle said.  “Fortunately, we appear to be nearing the end of nearly three decades of short-sighted, one-size-fits-all policies that restrict access to domestic supplies despite explosive global demand.  The lack of a commonsense offshore energy policy has placed this country in economic and strategic peril.  Ending these bans will send a strong signal to the rest of the world that America is finally getting serious about producing more of its own energy.”

Federal law has prohibited American energy production on most of the OCS since 1982.  With President Bush’s rescinding of the executive moratorium today, the only ban that remains is known as the Congressional Moratorium.  It comes in the form of an annual appropriations rider in Congress, which expires – and must be renewed – every year.  Congress has enacted OCS energy bans every year since 1981.

**Unless the Congress and the president approve a new appropriations rider, the Congressional ban will expire on September 30th – 78 days from today – at the end of the federal FY2008 fiscal year.**

NOTE:  The only comprehensive offshore energy reform measure to pass either chamber of the Congress was known as the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act, which the House of Representatives approved in 2006.  Had it been enacted into law, the Act would have implemented a flexible framework in which coastal states had complete authority over the first 100 miles off their shores and the federal government had authority to produce energy for its consumers in the deep waters beyond.

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 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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