First Congressional Hearings Scheduled

Listen, call and/or write. Let the committee know that people do not want off shore drilling. All hearings start at 10:00 a.m. EST.

WASHINGTON – (Dow Jones) – February 04, 2009

Federal lawmakers are gearing up to legislate a new offshore drilling plan that could restrict development in major areas of the Outer Continental Shelf, but allow some acreage previously closed to access to be opened for exploration.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., on Wednesday announced a series of hearings on offshore drilling that will explore the appetite for drilling off the nation’s coasts.

Republicans and oil industry officials are concerned that the new plans Congress and new Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plan to draft will ultimately prohibit exploration in areas that show the best prospects, however.

Despite vowing to reshape the country’s energy economy to move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable and low-carbon energy, Democrats late last year let a two-decade-old moratorium on offshore drilling on large swaths of the Outer Continental Shelf expire late last year as constituents hounded elected officials about $4 a gallon gasoline.

Secretary Salazar said he was going to work with lawmakers on the Hill to re- write the five-year plan outlined by the outgoing Administration that would have allowed drilling in the previously banned acreage off the East and West coasts, as well as Alaska.

With polls still showing strong support for drilling, Salazar and Congress will need to tread a fine political line on offshore drilling policy, even with oil prices dropping from a $147 a barrel last July to around $40 recently and a larger majority in both chambers. “We’re now in a more reasoned atmosphere,” than last summer, Rahall said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Rahall and other lawmakers say there’s been little traction on Capitol Hill for a full reinstatement of the ban, despite strong calls from many environmental groups to prohibit drilling through legislation. “I don’t think it would pass through Congress,” the chairman said.

People close to the matter say the House is preparing a comprehensive new energy bill for a March or April vote that’s likely to include drilling provisions.

The hearings will be webcast live on the Committee’s Web site at: http://resourcescommittee.house.gov

Full Committee Oversight Hearing: “Offshore Drilling: Environmental And Commercial Perspectives”
February 11, 2009

Full Committee Oversight Hearing: “Offshore Drilling: State Perspectives”
February 24, 2009

Full Committee Oversight Hearing: “Offshore Drilling: Industrial Perspectives”
February 25, 2009

Committee on Natural Resources
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-6065 Fax: (202) 225-1931

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