For 27 years, drilling offshore Florida and the U.S. Eastern Seaboard has been banned by U.S. Congress, leaving potential oil fields undiscovered. So great is the fear that oil might actually be discovered that even seismic testing is forbidden. God forbid someone should discover an elephant field offshore the Hamptons. So with president John McCain making noise about lifting the ban, one does have to wonder why it took so long to be addressed in the first place. But then, reality crept back into my reasoning. Offshore oil drilling isn't some sloppy operation. It's been happening in the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea and elsewhere for decades. The technology has been proven, updated, and proven again, held to extremely high environmental standards, especially following the Exxon Valdez disaster which didn't have anything to do with E&P in the first place, and employed worldwide. Even in countries that are way greener than the U.S., offshore drilling is practiced without comment. But even now, with oil threatening to hit $150 per barrel, people are opposing expansion. Why you might ask? Well, there's a couple reasons. Certain wealthy people, who can afford to pay $4 per gallon for gas and have some friends in high places in our government, don't want to see oil rigs offshore their high-value coastal properties. And if the opposition to the installation of eco-friendly energy wind farms off Martha's Vineyard is any sign, many don't want anything out there at all. Second, some of the more vocal critics of the oil industry, namely some fringe environmentalists, have succeeded in convincing people living in the more progressive states on the coasts that drilling causes all kinds of untold damage to the environment. Lastly, this is just like America to not plan ahead for this sort of situation. Really, we have no energy policy, no realistic long-term plans in case of an emergency and no desire to think things out in advance. For nearly 30 years, low oil prices sated us and like any Goodtime Charlie, we just partied like low prices and abundant supply were going to last forever. Now we have increased demand, shrinking worldwide production, out of control oil prices and a looming recession. Just for once, I'd like to see this country practice another form of motivation for fixing its problems besides last-minute panic. Will McCain's plan fly? Probably not, but it's a start. If we take our energy concerns seriously, opening up oil production is just one of many ways we can help alleviate our supply woes. –Stephen Payne, Editor, Oil and Gas Investor This Week; www.OilandGasInvestor.com; spayne@hartenergy.com