President Announces New Offshore Lease Sales, National Mpa Sites

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Posted by on April 01, 2007 at 16:22:19:

Utilizing an overlooked provision in the U.S. Patriot Act, President Bush on Thursday announced he was opening up Georges Bank, the west coast of Florida, and the California coast to offshore oil leasing. Although a moratorium currently exists, he said the Patriot Act gave him authority to override the drilling ban and allow drilling anywhere, anytime he deemed necessary. Apparently the provision, which slipped by every member of Congress, had been inserted by Attorney General Alberto Gonsalves, when he was White House Counsel, along with the clause allowing the appointment of U.S. Attorney’s without Senate confirmation. Taken with the earlier decision to open Bristol Bay for drilling, Thursday’s announcement will mean the nation’s richest fishing grounds are all now subject to oil and gas development.

"I am not insensitive to the need to protect our nation’s offshore areas," said President Bush in the statement he presented in the Rose Garden, "so I have also ordered that Georges Bank, the West Coast of Florida, the California coast, along with Bristol Bay, be declared marine reserves, under our National Marine Protected Areas program, similar to what I just did in Hawaii, to make these areas safe from fishing and prevent any interference with the development of clean oil for our nation’s security."

The action by the President won high praise from all of the Beltway environmental organizations, many of whose members were attending regional fishery council meetings. "We applaud the President’s courageous action in the face of powerful special interest fishermen. We know fishery management doesn’t work and MPAs are our last best hope to save our oceans. Additionally, by drilling close to home, we will help to eliminate green house gasses emitted from tankers bringing oil from the Mideast," said Mimi Lilliputian of Environment International speaking on behalf of the bevy of environmental groups.

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