WASHINGTON - With gasoline topping $4 a gallon, President Bush urged Congress on Wednesday to lift its long-standing ban on offshore oil and gas drilling, saying the United States needs to increase its energy production.
"There is no excuse for delay," the president said in a statement in the Rose Garden. With the presidential election on the horizon, Bush blamed Democratic lawmakers for opposing his energy policies and for high gasoline costs.
"Families across the country are looking to Washington for a response," Bush said.
He said that offshore drilling could yield up to 18 billion barrels of oil over time, although it would take years for production to start. Bush also said offshore drilling would take pressure off prices over time.
There are two prohibitions on offshore drilling, one imposed by Congress and another by executive order. Bush is not lifting the executive order, saying he wants Congress to take the first step. He said he will lift the executive ban once Congress lifts its moratorium.