NGSA, IPAA Blast Clinton Offshore Ban Extension
The Natural Gas Supply Association and Independent Petroleum
Association of America made their displeasure clear over President
Bill Clinton's recent decision to extend a moratorium on offshore
drilling. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act moratorium covers
nearly all of the coasts of the North Atlantic, California,
Washington, Oregon, southwest Florida, New England, southern Alaska
and the mid-Atlantic states.
"Cleaner air and increased use of affordable, clean-burning
natural gas depend on access to the large natural gas fields off
the nation's coasts," said NGSA President Nicholas Bush.
"Continuing today's severe restrictions on offshore natural gas
production is simply not in the nation's best interest."
Clinton added 10 years to the current ban, which is not set to
expire until 2002. Environmentalists were pushing for a permanent
ban, but Clinton said a 10-year extension would allow for
government review after expected drilling technology advances. The
ban applies to virtually all U.S. coasts. Clinton also ordered a
permanent ban on new leases for oil and gas development in national
"The areas placed off limits by President Clinton contain some
of the brightest American prospects for major new discoveries,"
said Lee Fuller, IPAA vice president of government relations.
"Discoveries that would ultimately create jobs, generate revenue,
and allow us to move toward meeting this nation's energy needs.
It's an opportunity lost, and it's bad national energy policy."
NGSA has been a long-time opponent of the moratoria on offshore
exploration and production that were issued in the 1980s and
continued through a Bush administration executive order and
congressional actions. "We can produce offshore gas and oil safely,
without significant environmental risk, and in ways that provide
jobs and help reduce the economic risks associated with energy
"It is paradoxical that, one the one hand, the Clinton
administration strongly supports the use of natural gas while at
the same time it restricts access to the most promising production
areas. In order to use gas, we have to produce it."
Bush said 27% of domestic gas production comes from the offshore
and the average Gulf of Mexico gas well produces 10 to 30 times as
much as a typical onshore well. "The U.S. has significant potential
onshore reserves. But given the productivity of offshore wells, it
would be very difficult for onshore wells alone to make up for
depleting reserves. Furthermore, a continuing string of federal
actions is increasingly denying us access to onshore natural gas
Joe Fisher, Houston
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