11 June 2008 21:59 [Source: ICIS news]
In a straight party-line vote, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee defeated an amendment that would have ended the nearly three-decades-old congressional prohibition on energy exploration and development off of the US East and
Those areas of the
The only drilling allowed off US shores is in central and western areas of the US Gulf.
US chemicals producers and a broad array of other manufacturers have pressed Congress for years to lift the drilling ban, arguing that modern deep-sea drilling is environmentally safe and the
The US chemicals industry is heavily dependent on natural gas as a feedstock, and the industry has seen plant shutdowns and production moving offshore since gas rose from $2/m Btu in 1999 to today’s price in the range of $12/m Btu.
The amendment voted down today was by Representative John Peterson (Republican-Ohio), who has championed an end to the congressional offshore moratorium for several years. His amendment would have opened the areas from 50 miles offshore to the outer 200-mile limit of the
Jack Gerard, president of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), said Wednesday’s vote “represents a stunning missed opportunity for action that could have helped put
Gerard said that because of the increased cost of natural gas, which in addition to being a major feedstock for the chemicals industry also is a crtical energy fuel, “American chemistry has gone from a $19bn [€12.4bn] trade surplus to becoming a net importer of chemicals, with substantial ‘ripple effects’ given that our products go into 96% of US manufactured goods”.
All nine Democrat members of the House panel voted to kill Peterson’s bid to lift the offshore ban while all six Republicans on the subcommittee voted in favour.
Peterson’s spokesman said the congressman had hoped to sway some Democrats on the subcommittee in light of $4/gal
That department has authority over development of US offshore reserves.
($1 = €.65)
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