Pelosi on Drilling: Oilman in White House Panders to Industry

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today lashed out at President Bush's decision to lift the executive ban on new offshore oil drilling, calling the president "the oilman in the White House" and reiterating criticisms of the GOP's energy platform.

"Once again, the oilman in the White House is echoing the demands of Big Oil," Pelosi said.

"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 that are sitting on nearly 68 million acres of public lands and coastal areas."

Bush owned an oil and gas company in Midland, Texas after graduating Harvard business school in 1975.


Pelosi has recently stressed that oil companies are not drilling on millions of acres they already lease, making the point to attack GOP proposals for more drilling off U.S. coasts and in Alaska.


Pelosi's critics have called that charge misleading, however, as oil companies have between 5 and ten years to produce oil or show that production is imminent, otherwise leases revert to the federal government. That time allows them to explore for oil, which can take several years according to the federal Minerals Management Service, and to clear drilling plans with numerous environmental agencies.



Democrats introduced a bill in June to prevent oil companies from acquiring new leases unless they can prove they are drilling on unused land; Republicans claimed the legislation would merely duplicate current policy. The Democrats' bill failed to pass in a June 26 vote.


In today's statement, Pelosi reiterated her recent call for Bush to release oil from the nation's strategic reserves.


"If the President wants to bring down prices in the next two weeks, not the next two decades, he should free our oil by releasing a small portion of the more than 700 million barrels of oil we have put in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve," Pelosi said. "It's time to tell the oil industry: 'You already have millions of acres to drill. Use it or lose it.'"