No New Offshore Drilling Ban Planned, Hoyer Says

By Josiah Ryan | November 18, 2008 | 6:42pm EST

House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer of Md. arrives for a Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CNSNews.com) - There currently are no proposals in Congress to reinstate a nationwide ban on new offshore oil drilling, which expired at the end of September, but restrictions on where the new drilling occurs may be implemented, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told CNSNews.com on Tuesday.
 
“I do not believe at this point and time that there are any proposals being made to reinstate the moratorium,” said Hoyer. “But I think there will be efforts to look at further ways to delineate which areas are available for drilling.”
 
In September, however, days before the moratorium was set to expire, Hoyer told CNSNews.com that the re-implementation of such a ban would be “a top priority for discussion” in the 111th Congress.
 
“I am sure it will be a top priority for discussion next year,” Hoyer said when asked if Democrats would fight to restore the ban. 
 
Back in June, President George W. Bush removed an 18-year-old executive ban on offshore drilling that had been put in place by his father, President George H.W. Bush, and extended by President Bill Clinton. 
 
At the end of September, Congress, which was in the midst of crafting a $700 billion financial bailout and facing nationwide pressure to lower gas prices and remove the ban, allowed the 26-year old moratorium, which had been attached to an annual Interior Department funding bill, to expire.
 
When another reporter asked about the ban on Tuesday, Hoyer said that he was not aware of any effort to “return to the same position we were in on September 28th or 27th or 26th,” but that there “will be real discussion on the parameters under which drilling will be pursued.”
 
“We are going to be looking at parameters [of drilling restrictions] but not necessarily the reinstatement to the existing moratorium prior to the president’s lifting it and restrictions of the Interior Department’s appropriation bill of ’08,” said Hoyer, who spoke to reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

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