United States offshore drilling debate

The 2008 US offshore drilling debate is an ongoing debate in the USA on whether or not offshore drilling for new wells off the coast of the US should be allowed.

The issue saw increased coverage as president George W. Bush in July 2008 lifted a 1990 executive order by George H. W. Bush banning offshore drilling, [citeweb|title=Bush lifts executive ban on offshore oil drilling|url=http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/14/bush.offshore/index.html|publisher="CNN"|accessdate=2008-09-27] while at the same time calling for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.citeweb|title=Bush 43 urges offshore drilling that Bush 41 banned|author=Johanna Neuman|coauthors=Richard Simon|url=http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/presidentbush/2008/06/bush-43-urges-o.html|publisher="Los Angeles Times"|accessdate=2008-09-27]

Per August 2008, a 1981 federal ban is still in place, making Bush's action a symbolic gesture. The issue of offshore drilling has become central in the 2008 presidental election, not least because of the oil price increases since 2003. It is also being debated in terms of both environmental issues and U.S. energy independence. As of September 2008, the Democratic nominee Barack Obama is against off shore drilling (although he is considering it), and John McCain is for offshore drilling.

President Bush´s Energy Policy has been named as ‘drill and veto’ by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. [citeweb|title=Pelosi: Bush Administration’s Energy Policy is ‘Drill and Veto’|url=http://www.house.gov/pelosi/press/releases/May08/drill-veto.html|publisher="United States House of Representatives"|accessdate=2008-09-27] Legislation discussed in the Congress about drilling includes Drill Responsibly in Leased Lands (DRILL) Act (H.R. 6515). [citeweb|title=Congressional Action on Gas Prices & Energy Independence|url=http://speaker.gov/issues?id=0031#13|publisher="Nancy Pelosi"|accessdate=2008-09-27]

The argument for drilling

The argument against drilling

Oil companies already hold places to drill in the United States, as well as have 5,500 offshore leases that are not being used.Metropulos, Jim. " [http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/2008/07/california_know.html California Knows: Offshore Drilling Doesn’t Make 'Cents'] ". Sierra Club California.verify credibility|date=September 2008] House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, stated “It's time to tell the oil industry: ‘You already have millions of acres to drill. Use it or lose it.’ Additionally the oil refineries are already operating at maximum capacity in the United States, and no new refineries have been opened since 1976.failed verification|date=September 2008 The Natural Resources Defense Council has estimated the price of oil would only drop about 3–4 cents in 15 to twenty years.


As interpreted by the federal courts, the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution gives the federal government certain regulatory power over "navigable waters" of the United States. The Submerged Lands Act of 1953 and Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953, along with the 1960 Supreme Court decision in "United States v. States of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida", divided ownership of the tidelands of the United States between state and federal governments. States own the sea and seabed out to 3.5 miles, except Texas and Florida which own out to 10.5 miles. The federal government owns the remainder of the territorial waters.

The 28 January 1969 blowout from a Unocal rig which spilled 3 million US gallons (11 million liters) of petroleum of the coast of Santa Barbara, California, has been cited as influencing drilling bans near the US coast.citeweb|title=Offshore Drilling Backed as Remedy for Oil Prices|url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/13/AR2008071302052.html|author=Steven Mufson|publisher="Washington Post"|accessdate=2008-09-27]

The ban has not been total and all-encompassing though. In 2006, an convert|8300000|acre|km2|sing=on area in the Gulf of Mexico known as Lease 181 was opened for exploration.

ee also

*Arctic Refuge drilling controversy
*Offshore drilling
*North American energy independence
*United States oil politics
*U.S. energy independence


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