Bush to Lift Executive Ban on Offshore Drilling

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones Newswires), July 14, 2008

Boosting pressure on U.S. lawmakers to allow offshore oil drilling, President George W. Bush will lift an executive ban on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf, the White House said Monday.

The moratorium, in place since 1981, won't be fully reversed until Congress also lifts its own ban.

Removing the moratorium is a key plank in the White House's approach to soaring energy prices. Last month, Bush called the ban "outdated and counterproductive," saying the Outer Continental Shelf could produce 18 billion barrels of oil in environmentally safe ways.

Democrats say companies aren't using existing leases and caution that new offshore exploration wouldn't have an impact on energy prices in the near term.

Bush previously said he would remove the executive prohibition after Congress acted. The White House says decisions on drilling ultimately would be up to states once the prohibition is lifted.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said that Bush's decision to lift the executive ban puts the ball in Congress's court.

"We are going to move forward and hopefully that will spur action by the Congress," she said. "The sooner they act, the faster we can send a signal to the market that we're serious."

Bush will sign the memorandum lifting the ban before making a statement in the Rose Garden at 1:30 p.m. EDT.

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