Rep. John Peterson (R-PA), a staunch advocate of offshore natural gas drilling, announced that he will retire at the end of this term, closing out 40 years of service in public office.

Peterson said health problems were behind his decision. “Although still young at heart, a few chronic, non-threatening health issues have to be addressed at home, requiring me to devote more time to my family — time and presence which would not be possible if I sought reelection.”

The House lawmaker over the years has been a leading voice on energy issues on Capitol Hill. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, he tried many times to remove the congressional moratorium for natural gas-only drilling off the East and West Coasts. His efforts gained increasing support in the House, but they were always defeated in the end (see NGI, July 2, 2007).

Peterson has been “an outspoken advocate of sound energy policies,” said John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Peterson said his decision to retire was not an easy one, but he drew some comfort in knowing that his efforts in Washington on several issues, such as energy security, “are on the right track and continued public education and support will bring about the right solutions.”

Peterson, 69, is the 18th Republican currently serving in the House to announce that he will not seek re-election in 2008, Congressional Quarterly Today reported. It noted that five currently serving Democrats also will leave the House after this Congress.

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