Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More oil drilling

I am watching the sunset on Whistler Mountain, B.C., Canada. Great spot. And it cooled after about 95F on Sunday. Good news: It appears the deals are in place for a US Senate bill allowing resumed off-shore oil drilling. The House has passed a different version, so there will be a conference after the Senate bill passes. Senator Nelson of Florida is slowing things. But they gave him a lot for this deal. Wall Street Journal (paid).
... to allow drilling in some eight million acres in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, which boasts at least 1.25 billion barrels of oil and five trillion cubic feet of natural gas. But his price was a moratorium on any other projects within 125 miles of Florida's coastline, as well as sending 37.5% of certain new federal leasing royalties to the four Gulf states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. The oil and gas industry is understandably underwhelmed. The bill is still worth passing, however, if only to get to a conference with the House, which last month gave the states authority over offshore drilling up to 100 miles out. The House bill provides for a permanent ban (versus today's limited federal bans) on drilling for the first 50 miles offshore, which could only be lifted if a state legislature explicitly voted to do so. From 50 to 100 miles, states would be responsible for defining what drilling could occur. Anything beyond 100 miles would be the federal government's mandate.
Again the environmentalists seem to care more about big government than the people most affected.
In short, the House bill offers greater protections to anti-drilling states, which would no longer be at the mercy of federal policy whims. Yet this is precisely what seems to worry environmentalists, who hold disproportionate sway in Washington and fret that state voters might actually support more drilling if it were safe and profitable.
Let's hope it passes quickly.

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