Clinton extends moratorium on ocean drilling Oil industry upset at halt to exploration

June 13, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

MONTEREY, Calif. -- President Clinton, navigating a middle course between environmentalists and oil companies, announced yesterday a 10-year extension of the current moratorium on oil drilling off virtually all American ocean coastlines.

Clinton also placed several existing marine sanctuaries permanently off-limits to oil exploration. The areas include the Channel Islands and Monterey Bay sanctuaries in California, the Florida Keys, Gray's Reef in Georgia and the Olympic Coast sanctuary off Washington state.

The moratorium does not, however, affect areas off the Texas and Louisiana coasts, where extensive drilling has been going on for years; neither does it protect areas not already covered by the drilling ban first imposed by President George Bush in 1990.

The oil industry reacted harshly to the president's announcement, saying that banning further offshore exploration worsens the nation's dependence on imported oil. The ban, issued under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, covers virtually all of the coasts of the North Atlantic, California, Washington, Oregon, southwest Florida, New England, the Mid-Atlantic and the North Aleutian Basin of Alaska, according to the White House.

Drilling in these waters is banned through 2002; the president's action would extend that period to 2012.

Pub Date: 6/13/98

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