Sen. John McCain said Monday the federal moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling should be lifted, and individual states given the right to pursue energy exploration in waters near their own coasts.
With gasoline prices rising and the U.S. chronically dependent on foreign oil, the Republican presidential contender said his proposal would “be very helpful in the short term resolving our energy crisis.”
McCain also suggested giving the states incentives, including a greater share of royalties paid by companies that drill for oil, as an incentive to permit exploration.
Asked how far offshore states should be given control of drilling rights, he said that was a matter for negotiation.
He offered no other details for his proposal, which he is expected to describe more fully today in an energy speech.
McCain's presidential rival, Sen. Barack Obama, opposes an end to the moratorium, a spokesman said. Hari Sevugan said McCain's “plan to simply drill our way out of our energy crisis is the same misguided approach backed by President Bush that has failed our families for too long and only serves to benefit the big oil companies.”
The current drilling moratorium covers about 80 percent of U.S. coastal waters. Given Democratic opposition in Congress to ending it, the Bush administration and congressional Republicans have been seeking the type of state option that McCain endorsed.