18 June 2008 18:22 [Source: ICIS news]
In what was clearly an election year bid to paint Democrats in Congress as obstacles to lower fuel prices, Bush charged that Democrats have blocked Republican-led efforts to expand domestic energy production.
In a statement at the White House, Bush said that in the long run the
“So my administration has repeatedly called on Congress to expand domestic oil production,” Bush said.
He added: “Unfortunately, Democrats on Capitol Hill have rejected every virtually every proposal - and now Americans are paying the price at the pump for this obstruction.”
“Unless members of Congress are willing to accept gas prices at today’s painful levels - or even higher - our nation must produce more oil, and we must start now,” Bush said.
Bush said he is calling on Congress to take four measures, including an end to the offshore drilling ban, open leasing for development of vast oil shale resources in US western states, authorise drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and to ease the federal and state government permitting processes for new refinery construction and expansion of existing refineries.
Bush noted that oil shale deposits in the
US continental shelf regions off the East and
American petrochemical producers and their downstream customers are heavily dependent on natural gas as a feedstock and have been pleading with Congress for several years to open the closed OCS areas to development.
Those outer continental shelf regions also are closed to energy development under a presidential executive order, first issued in 1990 by then-President George H. W. Bush and continued by every president since.
In his statement on Wednesday, Bush said he would revoke that executive order as soon as Congress votes to lift its ban on offshore drilling.
Bush’s appeal to Congress came a day after the presumed Republican candidate for president in this year’s national elections, Senator John McCain of
As Bush was preparing to speak on Wednesday, Democrat leaders in the House of Representatives postponed an Appropriations Committee meeting that was to hold a vote today on whether to lift the offshore drilling ban.
Sources on the Hill said the committee meeting was postponed because Democrats did not want to be seen voting against the energy measure.
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