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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Open Up the Waters and the Lands

Some degree of common sense seems to be creeping into the energy policy debate.

President George W. Bush has renewed his call to lift the 27-year-old ban on energy exploration and development in U.S. coastal waters. More than 80 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf is currently off limits.

U.S. Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has reversed an earlier position, and now supports lifting the federal ban and allowing the states to decide.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist also has reversed his position, and now supports drilling off the state’s shores.

There’s nothing wrong with changing one’s mind on the policy front when it’s from a position that’s bad for the economy to one that’s good for the economy. That’s the direction McCain and Crist have moved.

Given the vast improvements in technology and operations, expanding energy development to offshore areas and federal lands currently off limits poses no environmental threats, and makes sense for struggling U.S. entrepreneurs, businesses and consumers trying to deal with skyrocketing energy costs.

Unfortunately, McCain apparently still opposes drilling in ANWR.

And much of Congress appears more interested in imposing a so-called windfall profits tax on oil companies, which will only serve to further jack up energy costs.

Similarly, U.S. Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, seems intent on turning his back on economic common sense by supporting higher taxes and opposing energy exploration offshore and in ANWR.

More work remains to be done in advancing economic common sense on the energy front.

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