Discussion Topic: To Drill Or Not To Drill (Or How Much To Drill)

_President Bush chastised Democrats on Saturday for refusing to allow a vote on whether to lift the federal ban on offshore oil drilling before lawmakers departed for their summer recess.

"To reduce pressure on prices, we need to increase the supply of oil, especially oil produced here at home," Bush said in his weekly radio address. It was the fourth time this week that he has called for Congress to end the drilling restrictions off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. . . .

Most energy experts and the government's own research agency at the Energy Department have said drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf, which is now off-limits, would have no impact on current gasoline prices and probably would have none for years._

From WNEM News:

_McCain has called for lifting the offshore oil drilling ban, while Obama has recently decided to support limited offshore oil drilling.

The main differences between McCain and Obama’s energy plan stem from disagreements about how much offshore drilling should take place, and how much of the country’s energy demands can be met with alternatives like wind, solar and thermal energy._

And now for the spin.

First, from GOPUSA.com:
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While President Bush and Republicans are beating the drums daily for more oil and gas production, Democrats are finally starting to crack and offer compromises, with even Democratic standard-bearer Barack Obama softening his position. . . .

President Bush should announce that offshore oil leasing will commence on October 1st, 2008, the day after the current Congressional ban expires. He should make clear to Democrats that he will veto any legislation to impose a new ban in October. . . .

First, we need the oil and gas. . . . The perception of substantial new production coming in the near future would break the expectations of future price increases in the futures markets and lower prices at the pump. . . .

Secondly, a showdown on this issue is a political winner for Republicans . . . ._

And from the Huffington Post:
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According to McCain and Bush, the oil and gas industry wants to lower prices for American consumers, but they can't because they're prevented from drilling. This couldn't be further from the truth. Right now the oil and gas industry is sitting on 68 million acres of public lands where it could be drilling but isn't. It has some 6,000 leases in the Gulf of Mexico (where the majority of oil and natural gas reserves are found) that are not being explored. . . .

“Once again, the oilman in the White House is echoing the demands of big oil," Nancy Pelosi said on her speaker's blog. "The Bush plan is a hoax. It will neither reduce gas prices nor increase energy independence. It just gives millions more acres to the same companies . . . ._

What do you think? Is increased drilling part of a legitimate solution to the energy crisis. Would it come at too large a cost to the environment?