Sen. John McCain flew by helicopter to the Chevron Genesis oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday to reiterate his call for the United States to begin selling new offshore oil drilling leases.
Such leases have been significantly restricted by a moratorium that has been included in the annual Interior Department appropriation bill every year since 1982. The moratorium will expire on September 30 when the current Interior appropriation expires unless an extension is approved by Congress and signed into law by President Bush.
“Americans across our country are hurting because of the cost of energy,” McCain said. “Gas prices are through the roof. Energy costs have seeped into our grocery bills, making it more expensive to feed our families. And now, as people prepare for the winter, they are going to be hit with higher costs for home heating oil. It is time for America to get serious about energy independence, and that means we need to start drilling offshore at advanced oil rigs like this.”
In 2006, the Minerals Management Service, the division of the Interior Department that overseas federal offshore oil-drilling leases estimated that there are 85.9 billion barrels of “technically recoverable undiscovered” oil on the Outer Continental Shelf in U.S. territory. Venezuela, by comparison, has 80 billion barrels in proven oil reserves.
“Senator Obama opposes new drilling,” McCain said. “He has said it will not ‘solve our problem’ and that ‘it's not real.’ He's wrong, and the American people know it. This platform we are at today sits above a field of 160 million barrels of oil, and is capable of producing on a daily basis 55,000 barrels of oil and 72 million cubic feet of natural gas.”
Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, an Obama supporter, was quoted by the Associated Press comparing McCain’s position to the “Beverly Hillbillies” TV show where character Jed Clampett shoots a hole in the ground that turns into an oil gusher. Vilsack said McCain has “a Jed Clampett energy policy.”