Press Releases

Statement of Senator Feinstein on President Bush’s Plan to Lift the Executive Ban on Offshore Drilling

- Feinstein: “The President is deluding the American public” -

“President George Bush today announced that he will lift the executive ban that currently prohibits drilling in the federally protected waters of the Outer Continental Shelf – a ban that exists in tandem with the federal protections that were established by Congress in 1981.  This is a false promise that simply won’t deliver.

The fact is this: the President is deluding the American public into believing that new offshore drilling is a quick fix to $4 per gallon gasoline.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

We cannot drill our way out of this problem.

Even if new offshore drilling were allowed off the coast of California and along the Outer Continental Shelf – which I wholly and resolutely oppose – it won’t produce oil in time to solve the gas price emergency American consumers are facing right now.

 Here’s why:

  • First, there’s a global shortage of drilling rigs. There’s already a five-year waiting list for existing drilling rigs, and the vast majority of the new rigs currently in production are already committed through 2012. So, even if new waters were opened to drilling, there is no equipment readily available to drill for new oil. 
  • Second, new oil produced from these additional leases won’t be available for at least seven years. In fact, it would take a minimum of two years for leases to be processed by the Minerals Management Service, and then at least five years before these new areas could begin to produce oil.
  • Third, the placement of new drilling rigs in the waters off our coasts exposes fragile marine species and coastal businesses to the threat of a catastrophic oil spill. And Californians have learned the hard way how much damage – environmental and economic – can be caused by a major oil spill.   
  • Fourth, the overwhelming majority of oil and natural gas resources that are believed to be on the Outer Continental Shelf -- 82 percent of total natural gas and 79 percent of total oil -- are already accessible for drilling through federal leases. Additionally, energy companies have access to 68 million acres of federal lands and waters, where drilling leases have been issued but are not being used to increase production. 

Let me be clear: I’m committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to help find solutions to help ease the pinch of record gas prices. Unfortunately, there simply are no good or easy options to bring prices down.

Instead, what we need is a long-term solution that will reduce America’s reliance on fossil fuels. We need a national energy policy that promotes energy conservation and increases investments in low carbon energy alternatives like wind, solar, biofuels and others.

We also need to curb excessive speculation and crack down on manipulation in critical energy markets, particularly by large institutional investors. We’ve already closed the Enron Loophole, but we need to increase transparency and oversight for energy trading in over-the-counter markets and offshore exchanges. So, we’ve still got our work cut out for us.

And there’s no time to waste.”