President Bush caused a stir when he lifted the ban on offshore oil drilling Monday, Keith Johnson of the Wall Street Journal writes.
Johnson says the announcement lends itself to two readings. On one hand the decision is meaningless until Congress reverses its own moratorium limiting offshore drilling, which has been renewed annually since 1982. And Democrats, who have control of Congress are still outraged at the idea of offshore drilling.
On the other hand, even if offshore exploration and production in the U.S. began this year, it would still take many years to come to market and represent only a small amount of global output.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration says expanded offshore drill may knock off a few cents off a gallon of gas years from now.
Johnson warns that while President Bush’s move won’t affect physical supplies of oil, it may affect the psychology of traders.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada addressed these concerns and responded to the president’s announcement by saying that he hopes a bipartisan bill targeting oil speculators will be introduced by his congressional colleagues by Wednesday.