Emerson: Ban on Offshore Drilling Lifted, Vigilance Needed

Press Release

Date: Sept. 30, 2008
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (MO-08) today announced that the hard work of pro-American energy members of Congress has prevented adoption of proposals that would extend the federal ban on drilling in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.

"The lands off the U.S. coasts holding 86 billion barrels of oil and more than 400 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are, as of midnight tonight, available for leasing and exploration," Emerson said.

The combination of an executive order barring offshore leases which was lifted by President Bush and the inability of Congress to pass an extension to a congressional ban on the same lands enables the recovery of offshore oil and natural gas to commence. Legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and backed by the Sierra Club to continue the drilling prohibition was not taken up by the U.S. Senate. Emerson also opposed that bill.

"You can count this as a major victory over extreme environmentalists who lined up behind the ‘energy bill to nowhere' two weeks ago. That legislation would have locked away nearly 90 percent of these U.S. energy resources - and the failure of their effort is a big relief for American consumers who recognize the need for more domestic sources of energy. Now the task before us is defending our gains and bringing leases, exploration, and production to the most promising deposits of fuel," Emerson said.

The Department of the Interior is not expected to lease new lands for exploration until 2012. By all accounts, energy companies that want to bring these American resources to market face a tough road ahead, rife with regulation and the threat of so-called green lawsuits.

"Anything we can do to speed these resources to market, we ought to do," Emerson said. "Three years is an awfully long time for mischief that could erase the positive steps of the last few days."