Will inflation from the dollar's devaluation prompt political posturing?
"President George W. Bush called on Congress to lift a 27-year-old moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling, putting himself in the middle of an election-year debate over U.S. energy policy.
By urging lawmakers to lift the federal ban and work with coastal states to open up more areas of the outer continental shelf to exploration, Bush is reinforcing a similar proposal endorsed yesterday by John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate, opposes taking such a step.
`For many Americans there is no more pressing concern than the price of gas,' Bush said at the White House today. `Congress must face a hard reality. Unless members are willing to accept gas prices at today's painful levels or even higher, our nation must produce more oil.'
Expanded offshore exploration has faced opposition in Florida, which will be a battleground in the presidential campaign. Still, rising oil prices are creating a drag on the economy, and energy costs have become a top issue for voters.
Administration officials rejected suggestions that the administration was using the issue to harden political lines in an election year.
`Have you been to the pump?' Keith Hennessey, director of Bush's National Economic Council, told reporters before Bush's remarks. `Four-dollar gasoline has a way of changing people's perspective.'
In his statement, Bush called for lifting the ban on offshore oil drilling, allowing exploration and drilling in a portion of the 19-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, leasing of federal lands to mine and extract oil from shale in the Green River Basin of Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, and accelerating the permit process for new refineries.
Lawmakers last debated oil drilling in U.S. coastal areas in 2005 and 2006, when gasoline averaged $1.84 a gallon during the two-year period, Bloomberg data showed."