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APGA Calls for Congress to Tackle Coastal Drilling in Budget Reconciliation

The American Public Gas Association (APGA) last Wednesday called on Congress to include language in budget reconciliation legislation that would allow interested coastal states to open up their currently closed shores to oil and natural gas production.

"We have the most restrictive offshore policies in the world and the most stringent environmental regulations to ensure that production of natural gas can occur without environmental concern. Given the advances in drilling technology, APGA...firmly believes that we can increase access and supplies in an environmentally safe and sound manner. It is a self-defeating argument to say that we must make an 'either-or' choice between drilling and environmental protection" wrote APGA President Bert Kalisch in a letter to Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), chairman of the House Resources Committee.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, a number of Republican senators are reportedly interested in revisiting the issue of removing the moratorium on oil and natural gas drilling in much of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). They want to look at energy issues that Congress didn't have the "political will" to tackle before Katrina, a Capitol Hill aide said. But a spokesman for a Democratic senator noted that "even if we were to open the OCS up, it wouldn't help this winter" to head off the "looming train wreck" with natural gas prices.

Kalisch, however, believes that it "will be welcomed news for the American homeowner, who will open a January heating bill of $12/MMBtu [for] natural gas, to know that Congress has already taken action to increase access to our nation's abundant supply."

In addition APGA, which represents municipal gas utilities, called on lawmakers to provide relief to low-income energy customers through full funding of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and take steps to prevent manipulation of the market this winter.

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