Boehner Hails Interior’s Move on Coastal Drilling

Posted November 13, 2008 at 12:38pm

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is praising a move by the Interior Department to jump-start the process of allowing drilling in Virginia’s coastal waters, a move that Democrats say translates to little more than show.

Boehner said it is “a small but important step forward” that the Minerals Management Service announced Wednesday it will begin soliciting public comments relating to leasing Virginia’s offshore areas for oil and natural gas drilling. The comment period ends in 45 days and federal authorities could issue drilling leases by 2011.

“For decades, a misguided ban on new domestic energy production kept our nation’s resources under lock and key at the expense of American jobs, security and innovation,” Boehner said. “The ban was finally lifted last fall in response to overwhelming pressure from the American people. I’m pleased the Interior Department is following their will, and I’m hopeful President-elect Obama will do the same.”

Boehner urged Obama to resist the appeals of Democrats pushing to reinstate the offshore drilling ban, which, for the first time, Congress allowed to expire at the end of September.

But a senior Democratic aide said the MMS move “means absolutely nothing” because decisions about offshore drilling are going to be made in the next Congress with Obama.

“This is what every agency is going to do in the waning days before a shift in administration,” the aide said. “These last-minute regulations, they’re putting a mark before they leave. 2011 is a long time away.”

Obama has kept mum on his plans for dealing with the offshore-drilling ban, although he has previously shown support for limited offshore drilling as part of a comprehensive energy package that includes, among other items, investments in renewable energy.