President Bush lifted the Executive Order banning offshore oil drilling today. That won't make a practical difference, since Congress has an offshore-drilling ban in place and so far has refused to lift it.
Putting pressure on congressional Democrats to back more exploration for oil, President Bush on Monday promised to lift an executive ban on offshore drilling that his stood since his father was president.
But the move, by itself, will do nothing unless Congress acts as well to lift its own drilling ban. There are two prohibitions on offshore drilling, one imposed by Congress and another by executive order signed by the first President Bush in 1990.
"For years, my administration has been calling on Congress to expand domestic oil production," Bush said. "Unfortunately, Democrats on Capitol Hill have rejected virtually every proposal. And now Americans are paying at the pump."
The full text of President Bush's statement is here.
Over at the Capitol, the Don't Drill Democrats are in fine form. PhysOrg.com reported the Congressional leadership's response today.
But Democrats who control both houses of the US Congress rejected Bush's mostly symbolic appeal, effectively dooming a proposal that appeared to enjoy broad US public support some four months before the November elections.
"The Bush plan is a hoax. It will neither reduce gas prices nor increase energy independence," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who urged Bush to bring some of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve stockpile to market.
"We cannot drill our way out of this problem," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who charged that big oil companies are "not using more than half of the public lands they already have leased for drilling."
Bush's announcement came two weeks before lawmakers leave for their month-long August recess, at a time when four out of five Americans tell public opinion surveys that sky-high gasoline prices cause considerable economic pain.
"As the Democratically controlled Congress has sat idle, gas prices have continued to increase. Failure to act is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to me, and it's unacceptable to the American people," he said.
That's right. Fat lot of good having it be unacceptable does, though.
Pelosi and Reid have a lot of chutzpah calling oil drilling "a hoax" and saying "we cannot drill our way out of this problem." They have to know the only way to get more oil is to drill for more oil--unless they're stupid, which I'd believe of Nancy Pelosi (though she's not as stupid as Barbara Boxer, who is wisely keeping her mouth shut at the moment).
The only explanation for the Democrats' recalcitrance about drilling is that they want to keep oil prices high so they can blame Bush (and McCain by association) and use the issue to help get Obama elected. Then they might (but I wouldn't hold my breath) start drilling and declare themselves the saviors of the American driving public.