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article imageOffshore Drilling Ban Expires Today

By Susan Duclos     Oct 1, 2008 in Environment
The Outer Continental Shelf Moratorium, otherwise known as the offshore drilling ban, expired today. The moratorium was first enacted in 1982 and has been extended yearly since.
After a hard fought congressional battle between Democrats and Republicans over the issue of allowing offshore drilling to help the US become more energy Independent, the final outcome was the expiration of the Outer Continental Shelf Moratorium.
In July President Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore oil drilling and encouraged Congress to lift the congressional ban.
After months of arguing over the issue and Nancy Pelosi refusing to allow a vote that included drilling from coming to the floor of the house as reported by USA Today, as well as the expiration of the previous ban nearing without the votes necessary to extend the ban, finally the Senate and the House decided to let the ban expire.
Environment News Service reports Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma called the expiration of these moratoria "a victory for the American people and our goal of energy security."
In a statement provided at Senator Jim DeMint's website, he says:
With all that is going on in Washington this week it can be hard to decipher the good from the bad. However, as Congress wraps up work it appears there is indeed a reason to celebrate: American Energy Freedom Day has finally arrived.
Thanks to pressure from the American people who are suffering at the pump, Democrats have reluctantly stepped aside and allowed the bans on oil shale and offshore drilling for oil and natural gas to expire. And the credit goes to you, the American people. Without the letters and phone calls to Capitol Hill and the urgent cries for energy freedom in townhall meetings throughout the country, this never would have happened. However, allowing the ban to expire is only the first step in enabling increased American energy production.
DeMint is also introducing the Drill Now Act, S. 3646, which will permanently end the ban on offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific, Eastern Gulf of Mexico and Oil Shale Areas.
Summary of the Drill Now Act 3646:
• Expedites Leasing Process: Allows the Mineral Management Service to being preleasing and leasing activities immediately, without the need to completely write a new 5-year leasing plan. The Drill Now Act would eliminate the need to write this 5-year plan, and allows the pre-leasing to begin immediately. Under current law, drilling may not begin until 2011, but under Drill Now Act, drilling could begin in late 2009.
• Ensures 50/50 State Royalty Sharing: Creates revenue sharing for all states that allow drilling off their coasts divided – 50% for states and 50% for the Federal Treasury.
• Expedites Judicial Review of Environmental Lawsuits: Allows only 90 days to submit a legal case to U.S. District Courts. Any appeal of a district court can only be made in the U.S. District Court of Appeals in D.C. Limits judicial review for how the Secretary enforces laws.
More about the introduction of the bill can be found here.
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