Chambliss, Isakson: Lifting of Drilling Moratorium is Victory for Georgians, Giant Step Forward

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today said during a press conference on Capitol Hill that Congressional leadership’s decision to allow the moratorium on oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific shores to expire is a victory for Georgians. The moratorium was imposed in 1982 and has been renewed in annual spending bills each year since. It is set to expire on September 30, 2008.
For months, Chambliss and Isakson have been calling on Republicans and Democrats to put aside their differences on energy and come together with a comprehensive solution. The lifting of the moratorium is a huge step in that direction and shows how far the debate has shifted in the months since Chambliss and Isakson have been working with a small group of Republicans and Democrats on making the nation more energy independent.
“This is certainly a day of celebration in the world of energy,” said Chambliss. “We have one goal in mind, and that is for the United States to become energy independent.  Removing the congressional moratorium on drilling is a giant step in the right direction, but it’s only the first step.  Congress needs to develop a plan to move forward with leasing areas in the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas exploration and development. We should also try to further open the Gulf of Mexico where we know there is oil, but which is covered by a separate moratorium.  Finally, a legislative plan will give the American people and industry the confidence necessary to proceed with developing our domestic sources of energy. Unfortunately, because of the way in which this moratorium was lifted, it can be reinstated just as easily as it was lifted.”
“We have dramatically advanced the energy debate in Congress. When we started this process, there was absolutely no desire on the Democrats part to explore for oil domestically. Now, Democrats have heard from the American people and are more willing to explore domestic production,” Isakson said. “We have raised the consciousness of Congress and shifted the national debate. However, we still have work to do. We must ensure that this move to repeal the moratorium is not temporary. We also need to enact comprehensive legislation to decrease our dependence on foreign oil in the long term through measures such as increasing nuclear power generation, expanding renewable sources of energy and promoting conservation and efficiency.”
Chambliss and Isakson both signed a letter to Senate leadership expressing their opposition to any attempt to extend the ban on offshore drilling and oil shale beyond their expiration at the end of September.