Dems Ditch Ban on Offshore Drilling

Current moratorium expires Oct. 1, GOP hails victory
By Laurel Jorgensen,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2008 2:30 AM CDT
Tthe Discoverer Deep Seas drillship sits off the coast of Louisiana as Chevron drills for oil in the Gulf of Mexico.    (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – Democrats are removing a ban on offshore drilling from the budget resolution to avoid a White House veto, Politico reports. The move aims "to take a budget standoff of the table so we can address the larger Bush financial crisis," said a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelos. A GOP leader hailed the "capitulation" as a "victory for Americans struggling with gas gas prices.”

The ban expires Oct. 1, but it could be years before new operations get underway. The Interior Department must first research the impact of offshore drilling to clear the way, and that could take at least five years. “Exxon doesn’t get to paddle three miles off the coast of Cape May, drop a drill bit, and start pumping oil on Oct. 1,” said a Republican aide.