A Change of Heart on Offshore Drilling?

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WASHINGTON - The price of oil plunged dramatically today - down $9.00 this morning.

Meanwhile, pressure is mounting from frustrated drivers paying more to fill up their gas tanks. 

Click play to view CBN News Correspondent John Jessup's earlier report followed by comments from Pat Robertson.

That's causing a change in the winds on Capitol Hill where a growing contingent of lawmakers appears to be open to the idea of offshore drilling.

"It's a devastating impact. Last year it was $25 to fill up. This year $60 to get a full tank of gas," cab driver Lucy Davis said.

Bush to Congress: Your Move

Today, President Bush again put the ball directly in the hands of Congress, repeating his call for lawmakers to scrap a decades old BAN on drilling.

"The sooner Congress lifts the ban, the sooner we can get these resources from the ocean floor, to the refinery to the gas pump," Bush said.

"Democratic leaders have been delaying action on offshore exploration and now they have an opportunity to show that they finally hear the frustrations of the American people," he said.

As voters prepare to head to the polls in four months, a few senior Democratic lawmakers have said they're willing to compromise in exchange for what they call responsible oil production.

But there's still heavy resistance from others and environmentalists who say drilling is not the solution to America's energy problem.

"Rather than drill, drill, drill the President and big oil should tap, tap, tap into the strategic petroleum reserve. It's ready to go Mr. President," Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey said.

Experts agree it would take years for the estimated 18 billion barrels of offshore oil to reach the pumps and it's unclear just how much or even when it would affect prices.

But recent polls show more and more Americans think offshore drilling could bring relief from high gas prices.

A Change of Heart?

Now, there is a growing contingent of lawmakers open to the idea of offshore drilling.

Especially after the President scrapped an executive ban and put the ball directly in hands of Congress.

"It's been almost a month since I urged Congress to act, and they've done nothing. They've not moved any legislation. And as the Democrat controlled Congress has sat idle, gas prices have continued to increase. Failure to act is unacceptable," Bush said.

With voters headed to the polls in less than four months, a few senior Democratic lawmakers have expressed they're willing to compromise in exchange for responsible production.

Recent polling shows more Americans support the idea of offshore oil drilling, and think it would bring relief from the pain at the pump.

It's a change in sentiment that reaches from the public square - and apparently to halls of Capitol Hill.

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CBN News
John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Washington Correspondent

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