A July 11, 2008 Columbus Dispatch story asked the above question.
"Tide is changing in Congress as lawmakers feel pressure from constituents to ease gas crisis"
Sen. George V. Voinovich said yesterday that the combination of $4-per-gallon gas prices and rising voter support for more drilling could pave the way for a compromise that would have been unthinkable a year ago. The Ohio Republican predicted that Congress will pass a comprehensive bill this year to clear the way for drilling off U.S. coasts while providing more money to develop cleaner energy sources.
To win Senate passage, Voinovich said, a bill could not include opening up exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Voinovich said he favors drilling in the refuge but acknowledged that "it's a lightning-rod issue" with Democrats and environmentalists. Brown, for example, remains opposed to drilling there. Voinovich declined to say whether he is part of a bipartisan group of senators seeking a compromise on oil exploration and federal aid for renewable energies. But it is clear that some Democrats are showing a greater willingness to permit more drilling.Environmentalists have reacted with alarm to the idea of ending a 1981 federal moratorium on drilling offshore, primarily along the coasts of California and Florida. The ban grew out of a 1969 disaster off Santa Barbara when 3 million gallons of crude oil from an offshore platform covered 35 miles of coastline. They argue that it would take years for new platforms to produce oil and that the U.S. should be working to change its oil-based economy to renewable energies. "The drive to drill is like an obese man saying he is going to lose weight by eating more," said Dan Weiss, director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress, a research group in Washington.