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Last year, following a dramatic price spike in gas prices and very vocal call by the American people to increase American-made energy, Congress and then-President George W. Bush ended a decades-long ban on offshore drilling. Even though the Department of the Interior has jurisdiction over our coasts, Congress had used its power to spend to eliminate offshore drilling by restricting the funds necessary to develop offshore drilling. After President George W. Bush lifted the Executive Order banning offshore drilling in July, Congress followed suit by no longer restricting funding for offshore drilling projects in the appropriations packages.
However, more than a year later, we have still not progressed on this because of delays imposed by the Obama Administration. In March, President Obama announced that he would extend the comment period another six months. That comment period ended on September 21st, but in a move signaling what could be an indefinite delay, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that it could be 2012 before the administration decided whether or not it would allow offshore drilling.
The American people, the United States Congress, and the White House made it very clear last summer they wanted to develop the energy resources off our coasts. Instead of following the will of the people and this Congress, however, the Obama Administration has used one stall tactic after another to delay drilling as long as possible. Drilling in the outer-continental shelf will not only decrease the cost American families pay for energy, it will also create jobs, encourage economic growth, bring in much-needed revenues to many coastal states, and will help us break our dangerous reliance on foreign oil.
According to the American Energy Alliance Report, drilling in the outer-continental shelf would generate $8 trillion in economic output and 1.2 million jobs annually across the country. At a time when unemployment is near 10% and our dependency on foreign oil continues to cost Americans money, jobs, and national security, we cannot turn our backs on offshore drilling. Now is the time to begin expanding all our American-made energy options, and that includes drilling on the outer-continental shelf.
Frank Lucas represents Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. For more Frankly Speakings, please visit Rep. Lucas’ Blog at http://www.house.gov/lucas/frankly-speaking/index.shtml.