Jul 02 2001


U.S. Senator Richard Shelby today commented on the Bush Administration's proposal to offer new oil leases for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

"While I would have liked to have seen the entire Lease Sale 181 area offered for lease, I believe the Administration's proposal is a step in the right direction," said Shelby. "We absolutely must decrease our dependence on foreign sources of energy-particularly in light of our current energy crunch and our ever-increasing energy demands. This is not just an issue of economic stability. It is also an issue of national security."

"I believe we can continue to expand domestic oil and gas exploration and production in an environmentally sensitive and sound manner," added Shelby.

The new leases will be offered in about 1.5 million acres, which is roughly one-quarter of the area considered in the original proposal and referred to as Lease Sale 181 tract. The entire 181 tract contains an estimated 7.8 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.9 billion barrels of oil.

The Bush Administration's proposed lease sites would be at least 100 miles from American shores. Federal leases have not been offered in the Eastern gulf since 1988. In a letter to President Bush, Senator Shelby and the entire Alabama Congressional delegation recently urged the responsible development of domestic resources, including the entire Lease Sale 181 tract.