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Offshore-drill ban to be allowed to expire

September 23, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Opponents of offshore oil-drilling have just suffered a major defeat in Congress. Democrats have decided to allow a quarter-century ban on drilling for oil off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts to expire.Democrats have been waging this battle for months, arguing that off-shore oil-drilling would do little to reduce American dependency on foreign oil. They were joined by some Republicans, including California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Tuesday, a leading Democratic lawmaker said the provision containing the moratorium will be dropped. Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-WI) made the announcement Tuesday.

Republicans are calling it a major victory for Americans. The GOP had made lifting the ban a key campaign issue after gas prices spiked to record levels.

The Interior Department estimates there are 18 billion barrels of recoverable oil beneath coastal waters that are now off-limits.

But the Congressional battle over off-shore drilling is far from over.

Democrats are expected to press for broader energy legislation next year that would put limits on any off-shore drilling.

Regardless of what happens in Washington, there is still powerful opposition to offshore drilling in California.

Governor Schwarzenegger has called the California coastline an international treasure that must be protected.


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