Legislation expands drilling

Published 11:00 pm Monday, December 11, 2006

By Staff
Legislation that will expand domestic offshore oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and allow Alabama and three other coastal states to share part of the federal revenues generated passed the House last Friday afternoon by a vote of 367-45.
With the 109th Congress quickly drawing to a close, the opportunity to increase oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico was fleeting. There are no easy answers to our energy needs, but opening the Outer Continental Shelf to drilling will benefit the entire country.
As far as I'm concerned, we could not go home without passing the OCS bill, as it will limit our dependency on foreign resources. This legislation will also bring a great deal of revenue to the state of Alabama.
The Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, H.R. 6111, will open energy production in approximately 8 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico. Drilling would be restricted to at least 125 miles off of Alabama's coast.
At a time when energy prices are fluctuating, we cannot allow America's offshore oil and natural gas leases to remain unused. It is good to end this Congress on a positive note.
At the writing of this column, the bill is headed back to the Senate for approval.
Study froup releases report
The Baker-Hamilton Commission, formally known as the Iraq Study Group, released 79 recommendations last week for America's future strategy for victory in Iraq.
At the urging of Congress, the bipartisan ISG, led by co-chairs James A. Baker III, former secretary of state, and Lee H. Hamilton, former congressman and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, conducted an assessment of the situation in Iraq, its impact on the surrounding region, and consequences for U.S. interests.
The ISG is comprised of 10 members - five Democrats and five Republicans. During August and September the group spent four days in Iraq to gain a firsthand account of the situation. The group met nine times and consulted with 136 people by mid-September and 171 people as it prepared its final report.
The ISG was tasked with examining four areas: the strategic environment in and around Iraq; the security of Iraq and key challenges to enhancing security within the country; political developments within Iraq following the elections and formation of the new government; and the economy and reconstruction.
There certainly are no easy answers, but the set of recommendations put forth by the ISG will serve as a useful roadmap as we go forward.
Obviously, many of the group's recommendations are easier said than done, but Congress will use the &#8220blueprint” they have recommended to help inform decisions and positively influence the outcome in Iraq.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my Web site at http://bonner.house.gov.

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