Published September 27, 2008 10:43 AM

What Will Happen When the Offshore Drilling Ban Expires?

In September 2008, House Democrats handed congressional Republicans a victory by agreeing to let the 26-year-old moratorium on offshore drilling expire on September 30. The Democrats made their decision amid the growing public outcry about high gasoline prices and concerns about the struggling financial markets, and after President Bush threatened to veto a proposed $630 billion funding bill and shut down the federal government if the legislation included language to renew the offshore drilling ban.

Bush Refuses Any Restrictions on Offshore Drilling
The White House also rejected a Democratic plan to include a modified proposal, passed recently by the House of Representatives, that would have opened some coastal areas to offshore drilling provided they were more than 50 miles offshore and the affected states agreed. As a result, the proposed funding bill will say nothing about offshore drilling, which will have the effect of lifting the ban that state lawmakers and environmentalists have fought successfully to keep in place since it was first established in the early 1980s.

"Unfortunately, the president's willingness to veto any sensible compromise on offshore drilling, which would have threatened to shut down the government and send a dangerous signal during these hard economic times and a financial crisis on Wall Street, led to the expiration of the current moratorium," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

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