On the Spot (CNSNews.com) – House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), thinks the congressional ban on new offshore oil drilling should be allowed to expire on Sept. 30, opening the door for new drilling leases to be issued to oil companies. However, Boehner is not sure whether President Bush should veto any congressional appropriations bill that contains the ban, should one reach his desk prior to Sept. 30.
“I don't think that the moratorium on offshore drilling or the drilling in the inner mountain pass for oil shale should be continued,” Boehner told CNSNews.com Wednesday in response to whether Bush should veto any bill that includes a moratorium on offshore drilling.
“There is no reason for that [ban] to be extended,” said Boehner. “The American people will not support those moratoria in the future, and I am hopeful that the legislation in the House will not continue them.”
As for a Bush veto of any legislation that contains the moratoria, Boehner told CNSNews.com: "We will see if it actually happens and whether Congress will actually pass it. It's a long way off, and we will cross that bridge when we get it.
“I think our focus ought to be on Congress preventing that from occurring,” Boehner said.
Earlier this month, however, House Minority Whip Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told CNSNews.com in an exclusive interview that President Bush should veto any bill that includes an extension of the moratorium.
The congressional moratorium on offshore drilling for most coastal waters was imposed in 1981 and has been extended each year since then in the form of a rider on an Interior Department appropriations bill.
If the appropriations bill to which the ban is attached is not passed by the House and the Senate, and if it is not signed by President Bush, the Interior Department, which oversees federal offshore oil-drilling leases, will have the authority to begin processing leases for drilling on coastal waters after Sept. 30 when the ban expires.
Earlier this month, Blunt told CNSNews.com he thinks President Bush should veto any bill that sustains the moratorium.
Blunt said he thinks the Interior Department ought to anticipate that the moratorium will not be extended and begin preparing to issue leases for offshore waters.
Boehner also told CNSNews.com there has been no recent communication between the Republican leadership and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office.
In a radio address on Saturday, Pelosi presented a “comprehensive energy plan” that would “consider” opening portions of the Outer Continental Shelf to drilling, but also includes releasing oil from the 700 million barrel federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and creating a federal Renewable Electricity Standard that would require oil companies to pay billions of dollars to invest in clean energy resources.
So far, Republican congressmen have been skeptical of Pelosi’s plan.
In July, President Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling that was put into place by his father George H.W. Bush in 1990 and sustained by President Bill Clinton.