Bush lifts ban on offshore drilling


Fearing the destruction of California's beautiful coastline, state leaders wasted no time in blasting President Bush for lifting the executive moratorium on offshore drilling.

"We would do everything we can never to have drilling offshore drilling here in California, off our coast. Our coast is very precious," says Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

President Bush says his plan would reduce record gas prices and that all that stands in the way is approval from a very reluctant Democratic Congress, which has refused to lift the 27-year-old prohibition.

"Democratic leaders can show that they have finally heard the frustrations of the American people by matching the action I've taken today, repealing the congressional ban and passing legislation to facilitate responsible offshore drilling," says Bush.

Most experts agree it would take at least seven years, probably more, before benefits of overturning the ban would become evident. Even the oil industry can't say for sure whether prices would go down.

"What that effect is going to be precisely, I can't tell you. And really, nobody can tell you," says Tupper Hull from the Western States Petroleum Association.

While pressure is mounting for Congress to do something about gas prices, the state Legislature wasted no time in sending a message. Assemblyman Pedro Nava represents Santa Barbara, the state's only coastal area with off-shore drilling. He is pushing a resolution, one that urges

"You can't wait until it's too late. What you have to do is light fire now. I want people upset. I want them angry. I want to say to President Bush, this is the wrong idea. It's the wrong direction."

While most Californians are environmentally-conscious, gas prices appear to be slowly changing sentiments.

"I know the environment is very important, but at the same time, we can't for this gas that we have now!" says automobile driver Whitney Brown.

The U.S. Department of Interior estimates as much as 19 billion barrels of oil remain untapped in coastal areas that are currently off-limits to drillers. In the unlikely event that much is available, that'll last approximately two-and-a-half years at current consumption rates.

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