- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar blocked a last-minute Bush Administration regulation which would have opened the nation’s coasts to offshore drilling, leaving open the possibility of a complete reversal of the policy Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Salazar directed the Mineral Management Services and U.S. Geologic Survey to study and report on the nation’s offshore oil supplies and said he plans to hold four meetings across the nation as he considers how to rewrite the nation’s five-year offshore drilling plan.

Mr. Salazar also chastised the Bush Administration’s snubbing of offshore wind-farms, saying that offshore renewable energy sources would be included in the Obama Administration’s new energy plans.

“For them it was oil and gas or nothing,” he said of the Bush Administration.

President Barack Obama has said that he supports domestic oil exploration and production as part of a larger plan to break the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, but oil companies and Republican leaders have been skittish since he took office.

More than fifty House Republicans asked Mr. Obama to allow offshore drilling in a letter they sent last week.

“We are writing today to urge you to allow areas in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to remain open for oil and gas exploration and development as your Administration reviews the five-year offshore drilling plan,” the Republican congressmen, including House Minority Leader John Boehner, wrote last week. “As you know, at the height of our nation’s energy crisis last year, the American people spoke with one voice to express their outrage when they saw that not only were we dependent upon foreign oil, but furthermore, that energy resources located within American territory were locked away and could not be developed.”

The Obama Administration has wasted little time in reversing many of the Bush Administrations environmental and energy policies. Mr. Obama’s Interior Department reversed leases to explore and drill for oil on Utah’s public lands last week.