Drilling moratorium should be lifted

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By Congressman Virgil Goode

Last week’s newsletter discussed the efforts by some of us on the Interior Subcommittee of the House appropriations Committee to get an amendment adopted to lift the moratorium on drilling for oil and natural gas on the outer continental shelf in at Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. Since that newsletter, there have been some further developments.

As the newsletter reported, the subcommittee rejected the amendment on a nine-to-six vote, with all Republicans voting “Yes” and all Democrats voting “No.” Since that vote, the President has spoken publicly, urging Congress to lift the moratorium, and one of the presumptive presidential nominees has advocated lifting the moratorium and allowing each state to decide if it wants to have drilling and exploration off its shoreline. A vote on lifting the moratorium was to have been held last week in the full Appropriations Committee, but the leadership pulled the bill under consideration, and the vote was postponed. To me, pulling the bill two hours before the scheduled vote is evidence that the majority does not want to have a debate on rising gas prices and steps that Congress can take to increase domestic production of oil and gas.

Opponents of lifting the moratorium said that it is not a quick fix for today’s high energy costs. That is true. However, alternative energy sources are going to take some time to develop, and the U. S. economy must have energy in the mean time. It should be remembered that Congress adopted legislation to permit drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), but President Clinton vetoed the bill. Had he signed it into law, America would be getting part of its annual oil consumption from ANWR now. The United States needs to make it clear that it will develop its own reserves to support Americans and not continue to be beholden to Middle Eastern and South American exporting nations.

On another issue, I am among several members of the House who are working with an organization known as Grassfire. We remain committed to having the fence along the southern border of the United States built by a date certain. The need for this legislation arose late last year as the Department of Homeland Security has back tracked somewhat on building the double-walled fence.

Grassfire is a grassroots organization that has worked with us over the past few years to secure our borders and stop illegal immigration by getting signatures on petitions and calling and faxing members of Congress. We all believe that securing America’s southern border is critical to our national security.

Please keep in touch with me on issues that are important to you. You may write Congressman Virgil Goode, 70 East Court Street, Room 215, Rocky Mount, VA 24151; or fax to 1-540-484-1459; or call toll-free to the Danville office, 1-800-535-4008.