Republican Whip to Bush: Veto Any Bill That Continues Oil-Drilling Ban
August 7, 2008 - 5:24 PMHouse Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">CNSNews.com</b> Thursday that he would advise President Bush to veto any bill that extends the federal moratorium on new offshore oil drilling past Sept. 30, when the current moratorium will expire.
Blunt also said President Bush should instruct the Interior Department, which oversees federal offshore oil-drilling leases, to begin making preparations now so it can start processing leases after the moratorium expires.
“So, if a bill passes Congress that has that moratorium, your belief is President Bush, your advice to him is: Mr. President, veto that bill?” CNSNews.com Editor-in-Chief Terence Jeffrey asked Blunt in an exclusive interview.
“That’s right,” said Blunt. “And my advice to him today would be to start the process up right now for what we do on October 1 when this moratorium is ended, and move forward assuming that there will be no moratorium after September the 30th.”
Blunt made the statement on this week’s edition of CNSNews.com’s “Online with Terry Jeffrey,” a Web-based video interview program. The full interview will be posted on CNSNews.com on Friday.
Congress first imposed a moratorium on new offshore oil-drilling leases in 1981. Since then, the moratorium has been renewed each year in the form of language inserted into the appropriations bill for the Interior Department. The moratorium lasts only as long as the appropriation lasts. All appropriations expire Sept. 30, the last day of the fiscal year.
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush imposed – by executive order – a second moratorium on new offshore oil-drilling leases. This moratorium was extended to 2012 by President Clinton but cancelled by President George W. Bush on July 14, 2008.
Under a mandate from Congress, the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), which oversees U.S. offshore oil resources, conducted an estimate of how much “technically recoverable” undiscovered oil sits under U.S. territory on the Outer Continental Shelf.
In a report released in February 2006, MMS said it believed there were 85.9 billion barrels of this oil. The U.S. Energy Information Agency reports that Venezuela has a total of 80 billion in its proven reserves.
Blunt said he also wants an end to the congressional moratorium on oil-shale leases, which also expires at the end of the fiscal year.
Partial transcript of “Online with Terry Jeffrey” interview with House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.):
Jeffrey: In order to actually continue the moratorium as of October 1, they need a majority vote in the House, under Nancy Pelosi. Then they need to get at least 60 votes, under Harry Reid in the Senate, if somebody in the Senate decides to filibuster that bill?
Blunt: If somebody in the Senate protests, but certainly at the very least they need a majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, and a bill the president would sign.
Jeffrey: That’s right. They also need the signature of the Republican president of the United States.
Jeffrey: Should George Bush veto a bill like that if it comes through?
Blunt: My view is that the president should just take the position right now that these moratoriums will end on September the 30th and the Democrats have to be responsible for putting them back in.
Jeffrey: Well, the Democrats wouldn’t be responsible, congressman. With all due respect, President Bush would have to sign the moratorium into law for it to exist.
Blunt: And I don’t think he should not do that.
Jeffrey: He should not do that?
Blunt: He should not do that.
Jeffrey: So, if a bill passes Congress that has that moratorium, your belief is President Bush, your advice to him is: Mr. President, veto that bill?
Blunt: That’s right. And my advice to him today would be to start the process up right now for what we do on October 1 when this moratorium is ended and move forward assuming that there will be no moratorium after September the 30th.