NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 15, 2006

In one of its final acts, Congress voted to end a quarter-century offshore drilling ban and allow energy companies to tap natural gas and oil beneath waters in a small region of the Gulf of Mexico.  While this move is long overdue, it does not go far enough, says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Among Burnett's objections:

  • Congress bypassed the House version of off-shore drilling -- which would have opened U.S. waters 100 miles off shore from New England to Alaska and could have more than doubled our current reserves of oil at a time when energy independence is a top concern.
  • Another main drawback is the way it dictates to the state the programs on which they must spend their shares of the oil revenue, saying "its federal micromanaging of the worse kind."

"The federal government was right to share the royalties from off-shore drilling with the states; it secures their buy-in and shows an understanding that it is they that truly bear the relatively small risk of environmental harm that off-shore production entails.  To then specify in detail the kinds of programs they must spend this revenue on is an affront to their Governor's and legislatures understanding of the most vital needs of their states," explains Burnett.

While some of the money from off-shore oil and gas production would likely have gone to shoreline protection and wildlife habitat and environmental programs, the state's should be allowed to spend the revenue on their most vital needs -- be it education, infrastructure, law enforcement, etc., says Burnett.

Source: "Congress Passes One Slice of Off-Shore Loaf; Congress Needlessly Ties States Hands, Says NCPA Expert," National Center for Policy Analysis, December 14, 2006.


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