State News

Dole now supports lifting ban on offshore drilling

Posted June 26, 2008

— Sen. Elizabeth Dole says she now supports lifting oil exploration off North Carolina's coast, backing away from her long-held support of a 27-year-old federal moratorium on Atlantic drilling.

"Now, more than ever, responsible and practical steps are needed to increase our energy independence and strengthen economic and national security," Dole said in a statement Wednesday to The Associated Press.

The Republican, facing re-election for the first time, said the option should be available to states so long as the exploration is safe, clean and not visible from land.

She plans to sign on to a GOP measure allowing states to open areas at least 50 miles off their shorelines to exploration that could bring in extra revenue for the states.

For years, Dole had supported the ban on oil exploration, saying it was necessary to protect tourism and marine habitat.

"There is no question that now, more than ever, we must work to end our dependence on foreign oil," Dole said in a 2005 floor speech. "But we cannot do so by ignoring the wishes and economic needs of the majority of the people of North Carolina, and many other coastal states, who oppose this exploration."

But as gas prices have passed $4 a gallon, Dole has increasingly softened her stance on offshore exploration.

"With the price of gasoline so high – at the time that I took my position earlier, I think it was $1.40, back in 2002. And today, of course, it's over $4 a gallon," Dole told WRAL News Thursday.

"And the technology has improved so much, as well, that I cannot, in good conscience, continue with a moratorium with the situation having changed so enormously over these years."

She said at a forum with Democratic rival Kay Hagan last weekend that she still opposed the idea but would consider a measure if it came across her desk. Hagan, like fellow Democrats in Congress, opposes the offshore drilling plan.

Republicans, including presidential candidate John McCain, have said offshore drilling could help the nation ease its dependence on foreign oil and provide short-term relief to gas prices. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has opposed the idea.

The Interior Department estimates that opening remaining U.S. coastal waters could provide access to 18 billion barrels of oil and 77 trillion cubic feet of natural gas beneath the 574 million acres.

Experts believe, however, that it could take years before production begins. Leasing likely wouldn't begin until 2012 for the Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the product wouldn't significantly affect production or prices before 2030, according to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration last year.

Gov. Mike Easley said last week he foresees a "very poor" chance that North Carolina would move to allow offshore drilling if the federal ban were lifted.

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  • davidgnews Jun 26, 2008

    Well maybe they're onto something. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.

    I don't subscribe, though. Maybe more like Libertarian.

    You got nothin' here.

  • whatusay Jun 26, 2008

    davidgnews...

    sorry, but "think outside of the box" is a liberal cliche

  • davidgnews Jun 26, 2008

    dogeatdog - here's some educaton for you. I'm not a liberal, just because I didn't agree with what you said. Think out of the box for a change, it will do you good.

  • dogeatdog Jun 26, 2008

    dog - you're the one that's blinded by your fervent belief here. You don't want to realize that letting it go is half your problem.

    I'm not "letting go" of my beliefs. If Canada provides so much oil to the US, why are we always begging the Mideast OPEC countries to put more oil on the market? Yes, I know we get some oil and natural gas from Canada..I'll read the article later to see how much..I am back in school (at 34) and working too, so I have to hit the homework for now..maybe you can let go of your liberal dogma some day :).

  • davidgnews Jun 26, 2008

    nodog - certainly it can be done. It won't make much difference by the time there's any yield.

    Prices won't drop until oil becomes obsolete.

  • Smorgas_Of_Borg Jun 26, 2008

    Umm, when was that picture of her taken that WRAL uses on these posts? I'm guessing 1980 at the latest...?

  • oldschooltarheel Jun 26, 2008

    About darned time there 'lizbet! As for Easley, he's gonna act like a Kennedy & worry that "his view" might be obscured by an off-shore rig. What a self-serving pig of a guy who loves to wear the Democratic mantle.
    He has certainly done a poor job of looking out for everyone in the state of NC except for his cronies & illegal aliens. Manufacturing, textiles, agriculture - all mainstays of NC - have taken huge hits under his "stewardship". What a boon activating those lease would be for NC! (If not wasted on illegals).

  • MrQuestions Jun 26, 2008

    "David Kirsch, an oil analyst at PFC Energy, a consulting firm, said that if the most promising areas off Florida and California were opened for drilling, their peak production in a decade could be as little as 250,000 barrels a day — less than a quarter of what the gulf produces now.
    “It’s almost a desperate attempt to take advantage of the political climate brought on by high energy prices to steamroll through legislation that won’t fundamentally address those high energy prices,” Mr. Kirsch said."
    Entire article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/26/business/26offshore.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2&ref=todayspaper&oref=slogin

  • foetine Jun 26, 2008

    first they give them 50 miles, but they'll work their way towards the coast. And then they'll horizontally drill under the Outerbanks.

    Remember when they had that "rumor" that the gas pipeline across the country was cut off which allowed gas prices to soar even though the problem wasn't as bad as Fox News reported. Nobody in the gas industry went on record because they were too busy counting their windfall based off bad reporting.

  • nodoginthisfight Jun 26, 2008

    davidgnews- simple build the refineries offshore. It can be done.

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