January 17, 2009

Bush Seeking More Offshore Drilling

The Bush administration is seeking to let energy companies drill for oil and natural gas in six U.S. offshore areas once deemed off limits, observers say.

In one of the Bush White House's last acts, it has moved to open a 60-day public comment period on whether to allow leasing for oil and gas in six sites off California, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic seaboard which had been banned under a federal moratorium that Congress allowed to expire last fall, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has said he is open to allowing additional offshore drilling, but only as part of a broader comprehensive energy proposal that also includes new commitments for alternative energy and efficiency ideas.

Democrats in Congress allowed the 25-year-old offshore drilling moratorium to expire last year at a time of record-high crude oil and gasoline prices, and since offshore drilling became a hot-button issue in the presidential election, oil prices have slumped in tandem with the global economy, the newspaper noted.