(CNSNews.com) - The ban on offshore oil drilling that expired last September will be restored by “any means necessary,” Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who serves on both the House Committee on Natural Resources and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, told CNSNews.com on Friday.
Inslee, who participated in a conference entitled "Planning for a Secure Energy Future” sponsored by the Washington Post, also recommended a ban on future drilling in the arctic, where he says there is a “gold rush” for oil uncovered by melting ice caps.
But Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who serves on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and also attended the conference, told CNSNews.com that offshore oil drilling should provide an integral part of American energy and recommended the Interior Department begin distributing offshore oil drilling leases.
Back in June, President George W. Bush lifted an 18-year-old executive order banning new offshore drilling that had been put in place by his father, President George H.W. Bush, and extended by President Bill Clinton.
At the end of September 2008, Congress – then in the midst of crafting a $700-billion financial bailout and facing nationwide pressure to lower gas prices and remove the ban – allowed a 26-year-old moratorium of offshore oil drilling that had been annually attached to the Interior Department funding bill, to expire.
Since then, the Bureau of Land Management has allowed bidding on leases for oil exploration. But some Democratic members of congress have indicated they would like to see the ban restored.
The moratorium on offshore oil drilling “will be reinstated,” Inslee told CNSNews.com, but he did not specify whether he meant the executive branch moratorium or the one from the Interior Department.
“One way or the other, it will be reinstated,” said Inslee. “One way or the other, by any means necessary.
“We are off the Pacific coast, and there would be a civil war,” said Inslee. “There would be something like a secessionist movement if there was a serious attempt to [permanently] remove the moratorium.”
But Walden, whose state is also on the Pacific coast, told CNSNews.com that offshore oil drilling should contribute an important part of the country’s energy supply while greener technologies are being developed.
“Yes,” the Interior Department should begin distributing leases for offshore oil and gas exploration, Walden told CNSNews.com.
“We have to have natural gas,” he said. “We have to have U.S. oil production. There may be as much as 75 percent of our proven reserves that are on federal lands or in the ocean combined. It’s a huge opportunity for this country to become energy independent.”
Walden added that he thinks the process of offshore oil drilling could also provide an excellent stimulus to the U.S. economy.
“This is the timeline, when the economy is down, that we should be doing exploration,” said Walden. “Now is the time we should invest. There is a huge investment you must make to go out and do all the environmental work to make sure this is a good area for drilling.”
“I think you have to have the whole mix as we work towards less carbon and less fossil fuel, but we are not going to get there overnight, so in between I don’t want to go back to $5 gas and diesel,” said Walden.
Inslee also said the federal government should consider a new ban on drilling in Arctic regions of the world.
“When we talk about drilling, the new thing we have to think about is the Arctic,” said Inslee. “There is a dangerous irony occurring. We are drilling, burning oil, sending CO2 up into the atmosphere, creating global warming – and it’s melting the Arctic making it possible for people to drill.”
“Now there is this gold rush to start punching oil wells in a place we just desecrated because of global warming,” said Inslee. “That’s one place we have to get a new moratorium where there hasn’t been one before, because there has always been ice there before.”