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Congress hears pleas from oil giants on offshore leases

Houston Chronicle

By JENNIFER A. DLOUHY Washington Bureau

Feb. 25, 2009, 10:32PM

WASHINGTON — Top executives from some of the nation’s biggest oil companies on Wednesday pleaded with Congress to expand ?offshore drilling to help wean the U.S. off foreign energy sources and spur new jobs.


Gary Luquette, the president of Chevron North America Exploration and Production Co., said new offshore drilling is essential to meet growing energy demands in the U.S. 

“Today’s decisions should help us prepare for — not jeopardize — tomorrow’s economic growth,” Luquette told the House Natural Resources Committee. 

“To prepare for tomorrow’s economic growth and meet our nation’s increasing long-term energy demand, we need … more conservation, we need more alternatives and renewables, and we need more conventional oil and natural gas. We need more of all our resources.” 

Two long-standing bans that blocked drilling on most of the Outer Continental Shelf were lifted last year, giving energy companies their best chance in decades at trying to tap pockets of oil and natural gas beneath Atlantic and Pacific waters. 

But Congress is considering whether to make some areas off-limits again. Even if lawmakers don’t impose new drilling bans, a final decision on issuing new offshore leases would rest with the Obama administration. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently delayed a Bush administration proposal to offer new leases for offshore drilling along much of the U.S. shoreline and signaled that any surviving plan would be more limited. 

The Wednesday hearing before the House panel was the last of three dedicated to the issue — with the first two focusing on the views of environmental advocates and state leaders. 

A common refrain from the energy executives was that oil and natural gas are needed to fuel the country. 



BP America Chairman Lamar McKay said the U.S. needs an “all of the above” approach to energy, with “investments across the board in fossil fuels as well as alternatives.” 

The corporate leaders touted the potential energy resources in unexplored parts of the Outer Continental Shelf. 

Critics have said it could take years for that untapped oil and gas to flow. 

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., the Natural Resources Committee chairman, said “the amount of additional oil that we could drill offshore is a drop in the bucket of what we need to sustain our economy and meet our energy needs.” 

But Luquette projected that production in new areas of the OCS could add 1 million barrels of oil per day to the nation’s energy portfolio by 2025. 




Several Democrats, including Rep. Jay Inslee of Washington and Lois Capps of California, pressed the business leaders to provide Congress an account of their spending on renewable?energy research and production. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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