United States offshore drilling debate
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (March 2012)|
The issue saw increased coverage as president George W. Bush in July 2008 lifted a 1990 executive order by George H. W. Bush banning offshore drilling, while at the same time calling for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The issue of offshore drilling became central in the 2008 presidential election, not least because of the oil price increases since 2003. It is also being debated in terms of both environmental issues and U.S. energy independence. As of September 2008, President Barack Obama is for limited offshore drilling as part of an extensive energy independence overhaul.
Bush's energy policy was named "drill and veto" by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Drill Responsibly in Leased Lands (DRILL) Act (H.R. 6515) is one of the bills discussed in the Congress about drilling. In Florida, many counties, cities, chambers of commerce, and other local agencies have passed resolutions against oil drilling in Florida waters.
On March 31, 2010, President Obama announced that he was opening new areas in U.S. coastal waters to offshore drilling for gas and oil. This was in stark contrast to his reaction only a few weeks later to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that has become the largest offshore oil spill in United States history. In November 2010, the Obama administration rescinded the decision to open new areas.
As interpreted by the federal courts, the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution gives the federal government certain regulatory power over "navigable waters" of the United States. The Submerged Lands Act of 1953 and Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953, along with the 1960 Supreme Court decision in United States v. States of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, divided ownership of the tidelands of the United States between state and federal governments. States own the sea and seabed out to 3.5 miles (5.6 km), except Texas and Florida which own out to 10.5 miles (16.9 km). The federal government owns the remainder of the territorial waters.
The 28 January 1969 blowout at a Unocal rig, which spilled 3 million US gallons (11,000 m3) of petroleum off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, resulted in drilling bans in offshore California and Florida.
Offshore drilling has continued uninterrupted in offshore Texas and Louisiana. In 2006, an 8,300,000-acre (34,000 km2) area in the Gulf of Mexico known as lease 181 was opened for exploration. The existing moratorium on leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf expires in 2012, and the debate is on whether or not to extend it. The Bush administration used its super-majority of House Republicans to pass legislation which allowed unending leases for any proven reserves, with no future taxation on those oil reserves when produced, no matter how far in the future, with no responsibility to actually produce. Further, this created an "Oil Rush" which some say helped cause the BP Horizon disaster, as oil companies rushed to drill as many wells as possible to make discoveries that they would only end up capping and not producing, as a way to artificially raise the price and lower investment in the future.
Energy independence argument
The chief argument in favor of lifting the ban is that offshore drilling helps the United States become less dependent on imported oil. Geopolitically, the U.S. would be less vulnerable to sanctions by oil-producing countries hostile to the United States. It would also make the United States less vulnerable to a stop in a country's oil exports, due to, for example, a civil war or an invasion of that country. Economically, if a larger share of the oil being consumed were produced in the United States, it would lessen the U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world. The debate often makes references to the 1973 oil crisis and 1979 energy crisis This debate however, fails to acknowledge that crude oil is a global commodity, traded on a global market, not guaranteeing lower prices/ more fuel for America.
Fuel price argument
The issue came to the forefront in the middle of a steep rise in gasoline prices, so an underlying motivation was to reduce the current gasoline prices. The Energy Information Administration at the U.S. Dep. of Energy analyzed the effect of lifting the moratorium. With leasing beginning in 2012, production of oil would not be expected to start before 2017. The EIA estimated how much of the oil could be extracted both technically and in an economically viable fashion. The EIA found that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf of Mexico regions would increase domestic oil production by 1.6 percent between 2012 and 2030. Oil prices are today governed by demand and supply in the global market, and a 1.6 percent increase in the U.S. production would have little or no impact on price. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that the price of oil would only drop about 3–4 cents in 15 to 20 years.
Military training argument
Oil spills argument
Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean is subject to oil spills due to damage from hurricanes. While the Coast Guard reported no spills from offshore facilities, their estimates include over 8 million US gallons (30,000 m3) spilled from coastal facilities after hurricane Katrina. Offshore facilities and the transport of crude from them do however pose an environmental risk during normal conditions, as exemplified by numerous oil spills worldwide. On April 20, 2010, an underwater blowout and subsequent explosion and fire destroyed the Deepwater Horizon rig owned by Transocean Ltd. and operating in the Gulf of Mexico under lease to energy giant BP, resulting in the largest oil spill in United States history.
The federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits that assesses threats to endangered species. 
Relations with Cuba
Although offshore drilling has long been banned in federal waters off the state of Florida, Cuba has been preparing to explore its own offshore area near Florida. The subject became an issue in the 2008 presidential race, with assertions and denials of the reality of Cuban offshore drilling. On 31 October 2008, Brazilian and Cuban presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Raul Castro attended a ceremony at which the Brazilian oil company Petrobras agreed to drill for oil in Cuban offshore waters near Florida.
- Arctic Refuge drilling controversy
- "Drill, baby, drill", a Republican campaign slogan originally used at the 2008 Republican National Convention
- Offshore drilling
- Offshore oil and gas in the United States
- United States oil politics
- Environmental issues in the United States
- "Bush lifts executive ban on offshore oil drilling". CNN. 2008-07-14. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
- Johanna Neuman; Richard Simon. "Bush 43 urges offshore drilling that Bush 41 banned". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
- "Pelosi: Bush Administration’s Energy Policy is ‘Drill and Veto’". United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
- "Congressional Action on Gas Prices & Energy Independence". Nancy Pelosi. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
- Map of Resolutions Passed Against Offshore Oil Drilling in Florida http://www.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=106172446447503097421.000480838fe1fe5d92709&z=6
- Juliet Eilperin and Anne E. Kornblut (April 1, 2010). "President Obama opens new areas to offshore drilling". The Washington Post.
- John M. Broder (March 30, 2010). "Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time". The New York Times.
- Kristi Keck (May 3, 2010). "Could oil spill sap appetite for Obama's offshore drilling plans?". CNN.
- John M. Broder and Clifford Krauss (December 1, 2010). "U.S. Halts Plan to Drill in Eastern Gulf". New York Times.
- Steven Mufson (2008-07-14). "Offshore Drilling Backed as Remedy for Oil Prices". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
- "EIA - Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf". Eia.doe.gov. 2003-01-01. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- The Oil Drum. "Presidential Energy Debate Fact Check #1: Is Offshore Drilling the Answer?". The Oil Drum. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- Metropulos, Jim (2008-07-15). "California Knows: Offshore Drilling Doesn’t Make 'Cents'.". Sierra Club California. Retrieved 2010-12-23.[unreliable source?]
- "Alexander's Gas & Oil Connections - Offshore drilling is incompatible with military missions in Gulf of Mexico". Gasandoil.com. 2005-12-22. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- MSNBC, "44 oil spills found in southeast Louisiana"
- Urbina, Ian (2010-05-13). "U.S. Said to Allow Drilling Without Needed Permits". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
- Time (23 October 2008): How Cuba's oil could change the US embargo. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
- "Petrobras signs with Cuba", World Oil, December 2008, p.109.