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WASHINGTON -- While a bold move that is in no doubt an answer to the pains felt at the pumps nationwide, President George W. Bush yesterday announced he has lifted an executive ban on offshore drilling, a move only viable if a divided Congress supports it.
White House press secretary Dana Perino told The Associated Press the President will make his actions known during a scheduled meeting in the Rose Garden. Bush is not only looking to overturn prohibitions previously imposed by Congress, but of an executive order his father, George Herbert Bush, signed in 1990 while president.
While there have been murmurs and scuttlebutt surrounding this issue for months as the gas crisis hit the American public hard, Perino said the president no longer wants to wait, blaming leaders of the Democratic Party for stalling.
"They haven't even held a single hearing," Perino told the AP. "So we are going to move forward, and hopefully that will spur action by the Congress."
In regards to how this motion will impact offshore drilling, Perino told the AP, "In terms of allowing more exploration to go forward? No, it does not."
White House officials concede there is no quick fix to the nations energy crisis, but claim today's exploration could help down the road. To this end, Bush claims drilling could yield up to 18 billion barrels of oil over time, although notes it would take years for production to start. The President has also proposed opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, lifting restrictions on oil shale leasing in the Green River Basin of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, and easing the regulatory process to expand oil refining capacity, reported the AP.
Presidential hopeful Democrat Barack Obama opposes the idea and instead argued for helping consumers with a second economic stimulus package, including energy rebates, as well as stepped up efforts to develop alternative fuels and more fuel-efficient automobiles, reported the AP.
"If offshore drilling would provide short-term relief at the pump or a long-term strategy for energy independence, it would be worthy of our consideration, regardless of the risks," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement. "But most experts, even within the Bush administration, concede it would do neither. It would merely prolong the failed energy policies we have seen from Washington for 30 years."
Congressional Democrats have rejected the push to lift the drilling moratorium, accusing the president of hoping the U.S. can drill its way out a problem, reported the AP.