Friday, October 3, 2008

Short Shelf Life?

As you may have heard, Congress allowed the Outer Continental Shelf Moratorium, first enacted in 1982 and extended annually ever since, to expire yesterday. The removal of the ban will allow the Mineral Management Service to conduct oil and natural gas exploration up to three miles off of the coast of the United States. In July President Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling,

High natural gas prices are stifling the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers, including the plastics industry, which depends on natural gas as both an energy source and a feedstock in order to make thousands of products that America depends on -- from the parts that make cars and planes more energy efficient to the medical devices that save lives every day, So, certainly, this is a victory for manufacturers and consumers as it may increase access to domestic natural gas supplies, thus lowering the cost of doing business and moving our nation a step closer toward independence from foreign energy sources. Indeed, the end of the ban is a major change in Congressional opinion given that only two years ago lawmakers were only willing to grant access to a small piece of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and natural gas leasing.

On the other hand, it is still very possible that after November’s elections the new Administration that will take office January 20, 2009 will renew the Executive Order prohibiting exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf. A short “Shelf” life for the moratorium, indeed.

Will offshore drilling, by itself, bring a solution to our energy dilemma? No, but it should be part of the mix in the development of a well-rounded and sustainable national energy strategy that includes conservation, waste to energy, wind, solar, nuclear, coal and other innovations. That’s why despite the ban’s expiration, SPI and its members will continue to press the offshore energy issue with lawmakers.

For more information, read the statement released by SPI President and CEO Bill Carteaux.

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