By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9
Oklahoma's congressional delegation expressed support Wednesday for ending a federal ban on off-shore drilling.
President Bush is asking congress to end the 27-year ban in an effort to increase domestic oil production. The president and Oklahoma representatives said the ban needs to be lifted to make the country less dependent on foreign oil.
"In the short run, the American economy will continue to rely largely on oil," Bush said. "That means we need to increase supply, especially here at home."
The ban applies to 574 million acres of coastal water believed to hold billions of barrels of undiscovered oil.
Rep. Mary Fallin (R-Oklahoma City) said she supports lifting the ban.
"We need to reduce our dependence on foreign energy," Fallin said. "We need more production in the United States and we need to encourage that so we can bring relief to the gas pump."
The rest of Oklahoma's congressional delegation said they also support lifting the ban.
At an energy conference in downtown Oklahoma City, Devon Energy CEO Larry Nichols said the ban needs to be eliminated.
"Now that energy prices have gone up, we have $4 gas," he said. "There's no justification for most of the areas where we have restricted forms of energy, and we're paying for it."
Andrew Rice, state senator and candidate for U.S. Senate, said lifting the ban is not the answer to gas prices.
"I really think it's an election year gimmick," he said. "We've got to rapidly incentive and invest and diversify our fuel options so American consumers, whether it's heating and cooling your house or putting fuel in your vehicle, you have choices in our capitalistic economy."