Eintime Conversion for education and research 05-14-2006 @ 17:17:18
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Fed Panel For Offshore Drilling*

Federal panel suggests end to ban on offshore drilling

Los Angeles Times

[Semantic dishonesty--not an advisory panel, an paid house of thieves]

Saturday, May 26, 2001

A federal advisory panel is urging the Bush administration to identify the five most promising areas to drill for natural gas in coastal waters off California and other states that have been off limits to drilling for nearly 20 years.

The advisory panel to Interior Secretary Gail Norton said that locating the top reservoirs of natural gas would help determine if there "are grounds and support for a limited lifting" of bans on offshore drilling. The ban now covers 610 million acres of ocean off the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

If adopted by Norton, it would be the first attempt to overturn the moratoriums on offshore oil and gas development adopted shortly after her mentor, former Interior Secretary James Watt, proposed opening the entire U.S. coastline to drilling in the early 1980s.

To thwart Watt's plans, Congress in 1982 adopted the first moratorium on offshore drilling and has renewed it every year since.

Norton had no comment on the matter, said spokeswoman A.B. Wade, other than "she is supportive of the president's views" on offshore drilling. President Bush supported the drilling bans off California and Florida during his election campaign.

The recommendations of the advisory panel, called the Outer Continental Shelf Policy Committee, were criticized by environmentalists and congressional critics.

"Basically, it's a Trojan horse designed by the oil industry and oil states to lift the moratorium," said Warner Chabot, of the Center for Marine Conservation and the lone environmentalist on the advisory panel.

About 50 House members sent a letter to Bush to advise him of their "deep and unwavering opposition" to oil drilling in fragile coastal waters.

"Many of us represent areas whose economies rely on vibrant coastal communities," the letter said. "Tourism is a major industry for these areas and a staple of their economies ... Offshore oil drilling directly threatens this economic engine."

The advisory panel weighed the nation's supply of fossil fuels against demand. It concluded that federal waters -- at least 3 miles from shore -- called the Outer Continental Shelf "should be viewed as a significant source for increased supply of natural gas to meet the national demand for the long term."

(Original Len: 2598 Condensed Len: 2962)

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