Friday, May 19, 2006

As The Arabs and Chavez threaten our very existance by withholding our nations Lifes Blood OUR POLITICIANS VOTE TO KEEP OUR THROATS ON THE BLOC

House votes to keep offshore oil drilling ban; debates natural gas ban.
By: H. JOSEF HEBERT - Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The House rejected an attempt Thursday to lift a quarter-century congressional ban on offshore oil drilling in coastal waters outside the western Gulf of Mexico amid arguments that new supplies are needed to lower energy prices.A proposal to end the long-standing moratoria as it applies only to pumping natural gas was expected to be voted on later in the evening as lawmakers moved toward late-night approval of a $25.9 billion Interior Department spending bill.
The proposal to allow oil drilling in waters off both coasts and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico -- areas off limits to energy companies since 1981 -- was rejected by a 279-141 vote. It had been offered by Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, who called the drilling ban "an outdated policy" when the country wants to reduce its dependence on imports.
Supporters of the drilling moratoria, first imposed in 1981 and renewed by Congress each year since, scrambled to try to restore the natural gas drilling ban which had been stripped from the Interior spending bill in committee.Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., argued that developing the offshore gas resources would pose none of the environmental risks -- mainly the prospects of a spill -- associated with oil drilling. Supporters of the ban argued that natural gas and oil drilling were too closely linked.Lifting the moratoria for the first time in 25 years would allow energy development within three miles of shore along coastal areas "where tens of millions of our citizens have made it clear that they don't want any more drilling," said Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif.Capps planned to offer an amendment to continue the natural gas drilling prohibition.Florida lawmakers -- both Democrats and Republicans -- said energy development off the state would threaten a multibillion dollar tourist industry. Florida depends on tourism "and we're going to protect it," vowed Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.Opponents of the drilling moratoria argued that access to offshore oil -- and especially natural gas -- would drive down energy prices and help reduce the country's dependence on foreign sources of energy."We have lost millions of jobs already because of high energy costs and we're going to lose millions more," said Peterson, who has tried unsuccessfully for two years to lift the offshore moratoria as it applies to developing natural gas.Soaring natural gas prices, which have quadrupled since 1999, have forced companies -- especially in the chemical and fertilizer industries -- to consider moving overseas where fuel prices are much cheaper, he said.Peterson's measure would lift the congressional ban which prohibits the Interior Department from offering gas leases in waters along both coasts and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. But it would not affect a presidential moratoria, issued by executive order, that is in effect until 2012.Drilling proponents also faced an uphill struggle to get the moratoria lifted in the Senate, where senators from coastal states likely could block any such action.President Bush has said he has no plans to remove the drilling ban.But Capps said if Congress lifts its moratoria and declares that coastal waters should be opened to drilling, she fears the president "is going to revoke his moratoria" as well.The offshore drilling issue has divided Congress largely along geographic lines.Lawmakers from coastal states --both Republicans and Democrats -- worried that drilling offshore could threaten their tourist and fishing industries and bring risks of environmental damage."People don't go to visit the coasts of Florida or the coast of California to watch oil wells," said Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif.But many lawmakers from landlocked states favor developing the offshore energy resources, arguing the huge reserves of natural gas beneath the waters of the Outer Continental Shelf from Alaska to New England represents to quickest way to gain access to new gas supplies.Separately, an attempt to debate climate change -- and for the first time bring up for a vote the idea of mandatory caps on greenhouse gases -- was averted when a "sense of Congress" resolution on the subject was ruled out of order as part of the Interior spending bill.The climate provision offered by Rep. Norman Dicks, D-Wash., would have put lawmakers on record as agreeing that human actions were contributing to global warming and that carbon emissions into the atmosphere should be limited.The Senate approved a similar sentiment as part of an energy bill last year, but it was removed in negotiations with the House on the bill.

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