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Bush’s last gasp on oil

The Seattle Times

Monday, June 23, 2008


Bush’s last gasp on oil

President George Bush apparently found it easier to go after lawmakers when he asked Congress to end its 26-year-old ban on offshore oil drilling.

He could have started by lifting an executive order against coastal exploration, the one signed by his father in 1990.

America’s energy independence will not be found in offshore oil drilling. Two federal bans exist to make that point. Relief from high oil and gasoline prices is a byproduct of conservation, a broader menu of energy options and increased efficiencies.

Any imagined relief from an infusion of new oil supplies would be years away. News accounts make it clear the industry lacks the tools and capacities to find, recover and process more oil.

Sen. Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, makes the point the oil companies are already sitting on 68 million acres of federal land they have leased and not lifted a finger to exploit.

Domestic drilling has been the easy, default answer for the Bush administration, instead of leadership on constructive energy policies. Creative thinking and purposeful action have come from the states, counties and cities.

Longing for a higher-mileage vehicle in the face of gasoline at $4.30 a gallon? The president’s response has been ANWR, not CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) — drilling in a wildlife refuge, not fuel efficiency.

Bush can explain himself to the first President Bush — and for that matter, his brother Jeb, who opposed offshore drilling as governor of Florida.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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