(CNSNews.com) - A recent report by the Interior Department shows that there are about 139 billion barrels of undiscovered oil on U.S. territory, onshore and offshore combined, much of it restricted from extraction because of environmental regulations. Further, indications are that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) does not support drilling for that oil and would not take steps to do so if elected president.
On Monday, President Bush called on Congress to allow the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the Continental Shelf to be opened to domestic oil drilling -- something that would "help us through this difficult period" of $4 per gallon gasoline, he said.
Since entering the Senate, however, Obama has co-sponsored at least 100 pieces of legislation supported by environmentalists, including measures against further domestic oil drilling. He has voted against drilling in ANWR and against an oil leasing program also set for ANWR.
Obama explained why he opposed domestic oil drilling in his bestselling book, "The Audacity of Hope."
"We cannot drill our way out of the problem," Obama wrote, adding, "over the last 30 years, countries like Brazil have used a mix of regulation and direct government investment to develop a bio-fuel industry; 70 percent of its new vehicles run on sugar-based ethanol."
In a Sept. 2005 speech in Indianapolis, Obama further stated his opposition to expanded oil drilling.
"We could open up every square inch of America to drilling and we still wouldn't even make a dent in our oil dependency," he said. "We could open up ANWR today, and at its peak, which would be more than a decade from now, it would give us enough oil to take care of our transportation needs for about a month. Clearly, this is not a solution."
But oil experts, such as Lucian Pugliaresi, president of the Energy Policy Research Foundation, disagree with Obama.
In an interview with Cybercast News Service, Pugliaresi said studies have shown offshore oil drilling can be done successfully - and in an "eco-friendly" way -- to counter OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries).
"The national petroleum study and a lot of studies indicate that we are going to continue to use fossil fuels," Pugliaresi said. "If we can develop our own in an environmentally acceptable way, which we believe a number of studies have shown is possible, we would disagree -- we think we ought to drill in the U.S."
Obama has generally supported environmental causes throughout his political career. Annually, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), a major environmentalist organization, releases point scores on a scale of zero to 100 for politicians on how well they handle environmental issues.
In 2005, Obama received a 95 rating from by the LCV, and in 2006 scored a perfect 100. Obama's "lifetime score" from the organization currently stands at 96. Both the League and another major environmental awareness group, the Sierra Club, endorsed Obama in his 2004 senatorial bid in Illinois against Republican Alan Keyes.
In 2003, Obama was one of six Illinois state senators to receive a perfect 100 percent environmental voting award from the Illinois Environmental Council.
Inquiries to Obama's presidential campaign for comment on this story were not returned by press time.
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