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API Blasts Green Groups' Call to Reinstate Offshore Ban

The American Petroleum Institute (API) last Wednesday blasted a report authored by a coalition of 29 environmental advocacy groups that calls for the incoming Obama administration to reinstate the moratorium on oil and natural gas drilling off the East and Pacific coasts.

The recommendation was tucked away in a 391-page "Transition to Green" report that identifies what actions the Obama administration should take in its first 100 days and beyond with respect to key environmental issues. The report was submitted to the Obama transition team.

"Reimposition of offshore leasing moratoria would be a giant step backwards in meeting U.S. energy challenges. We cannot solve our economic problems by making our energy problems worse," said API President Jack Gerard. "The American people have shown overwhelming support for increased domestic oil and gas development. Election Day exit polls found two-thirds of voters favored offshore drilling where it is not currently allowed.

"[T]he economic crisis makes the development of oil and natural gas resources more urgent than ever." The U.S. oil and gas industry supports approximately six million jobs -- 1.8 million people directly employed by the industry, with more than four million indirect jobs, according to the API.

Oil and gas development on federal lands, both offshore and onshore, "means billions of dollars for the U.S. Treasury and state governments in royalties, bonus bid, rentals severance taxes, corporate income taxes and property taxes," Gerard said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) indicated earlier this month that the Democratic leadership would not seek to reimpose the ban on oil and natural gas leasing in federal waters (see NGI, Nov. 24).

President Bush in July lifted the presidential ban on oil and gas leasing off the East and West coasts and in parts of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the congressional moratorium on leasing in those areas expired on Oct. 1, leaving the OCS free of restrictions for the first time in decades (see NGI, Oct. 6; July 21). But with a new president and Congress taking office in January, domestic producers are wary about how long this will last.

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