The American Trucking Associations praised the Bush Administration for lifting the executive moratorium on offshore drilling. ATA also urged Congress to follow suit and lift its ban on offshore drilling as part of a long-term strategy to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and curb skyrocketing fuel prices.
“We need the ability to explore new, untapped areas for domestic energy supplies,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “The U.S. has an opportunity to improve our energy situation and continue to support economic growth, while providing consumers and businesses with the essential energy they need.”
U.S. companies are seeking permission to drill for oil and natural gas on the Outer Continental Shelf, 100 miles off the U.S. coast. The government of Cuba, meanwhile, has already granted leases to foreign corporations for oil exploration just 60 miles off Florida. If the United States were to develop these resources, U.S. technology and U.S. environmental regulations will ensure that the environment is protected, the ATA said.
Consumers have struggled with high energy costs for everything from gasoline to home heating oil. The cost of diesel fuel has also pushed the prices of food and consumer products higher as the higher cost of transportation adds to product prices.
The U.S. trucking industry depends upon sufficient and affordable diesel fuel supplies to haul 11 billion tons of freight every year. Given current fuel prices, the industry is on pace to spend an unprecedented $170 billion on fuel this year. Environmentally sound expansion of the Outer Continental Shelf leasing program will help ensure that the U.S. trucking industry has enough diesel fuel at affordable prices so that it can continue to deliver the American economy, ATA says.
Restricted areas of the Outer Continental Shelf contain at least 18 billion barrels of oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that can be recovered using environmentally safe technology. This is enough oil to power 40 million cars and to heat 2 million households for 15 years and enough natural gas to heat 60 million households for almost 20 years.
Currently, wells in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico supply 30 percent of the oil and about 20 percent of the natural gas produced in the United States.
Other resource rich areas, however, remain under moratoria, preventing exploration and production off most of the U.S. coastline. According to ATA, expanding access to new areas would ensure adequate domestic energy supplies because areas currently restricted contain large, untapped resources of oil and natural gas, which are critical to sustaining U.S. economic growth.