In a television ad titled "New Energy" that was released in July but continues to run in swing states and on national cable networks, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's campaign says Republican rival Sen. John McCain and President Bush "support a drilling plan that won't produce a drop of oil for seven years."
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McCain and President Bush both have called for ending the federal ban on offshore oil drilling.
The House voted September 24 on legislation that does not include any language on drilling, effectively lifting the ban on October 1. The Senate is expected to pass the legislation before it adjourns.
The McCain campaign Web site says the "current federal moratorium on drilling in the outer continental shelf stands in the way of energy exploration and production" and "believes it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use."
How long would it take for oil to be produced once this moratorium was lifted? Bill Trapmann, an industry economist from the federal government's Energy Information Administration, said seven years "certainly sounds like a time span that is in the right ballpark." Five years could be realistic, he said, if a project were fast-tracked under "very favorable circumstances" - such as the drill site not being far from shore and the presence of existing infrastructure, such as pipelines.
Trapmann said the exploration, bidding, leasing, development, and pipeline installation processes are arduous and they must be undertaken in a scrupulous manner. "These are multibillion-dollar decisions that companies do try to be very careful with," Trapmann said, noting that oil companies "try to move quickly but prudently."
The Verdict: True. A federal economist says Obama's timeline is generally accurate.