U.S. President George W. Bush lifted a White House ban on offshore drilling on Monday to try to drive down soaring energy prices, a largely symbolic move unlikely to have any short-term impact on high gasoline costs.
Following are quotes from presidential candidates, elected officials and an environmental group representative about the decision.
-- The campaign of Barack Obama, Democratic candidate for president:
"If offshore drilling would provide short-term relief at the pump or a long-term strategy for energy independence, it would be worthy of our consideration, regardless of the risks. But most experts, even within the Bush Administration, concede it would do neither. It would merely prolong the failed energy policies we have seen from Washington for thirty years," Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.
-- Sen. John McCain, Republican candidate for president:
"I think it's a very important signal to lift the ban on offshore drilling. I know that Sen. Obama is opposed to lifting the ban on offshore drilling. I think the states should continue to decide ... in the short term, it's important for us to have our own reserves as we transition to different kinds of energy. We need to have sufficient oil reserves off our coast to either reduce or at least cushion the increased costs of oil."
-- Rep. Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the global warming committee:
"Rather than 'drill drill drill' the president and Big Oil should 'tap tap tap'. The president should tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Big Oil should tap the 68 million acres they already own. And America should tap into its technological might to unleash a renewable revolution to finally end our dependence on oil."
-- Sen. Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico and ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee:
"Poll after poll indicates that the American people understand our nation has a fundamental supply and demand problem. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars to import foreign oil is not the answer. We need to be exploring all our options -- and that includes deep sea exploration.
-- Sen. Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey:
"...This coastline drilling plan is not a serious proposal to help American families. This is exploitation of pain at the pump to give yet another handout to oil companies. Instead of buying into this overhyped, oversold plan, we as a nation have the ability and ingenuity to take a smarter course of action."
-- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger:
"I know people are frustrated with the soaring price of gas, and I welcome the national debate on solutions to lower our energy costs, but in California we know offshore drilling is not the answer. We will continue to foster a market for alternative energies because choice is the only way we will ultimately bring down fuel costs."
-- Athan Manuel, director of Lands Protection, Sierra Club:
"We think this is just a terrible decision. We're not going to drill our way out of this mess. We could drill everywhere in the United States and not reduce our dependence on oil or reduce the price of gas at the pump. The solutions to this problem are not off our coasts. The U.S. does not contain enough oil to influence the world market."
(Editing by Eric Walsh)