(Recasts lead, adds Markey comments)
WASHINGTON, July 14 U.S. Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, on Monday rejected a call by
U.S. President George W. Bush to lift a moratorium on offshore
Bush announced on Monday that he lifted the executive
branch's restriction on offshore exploration, saying only
Congress stood in the way of opening up America's untapped oil
But Reid said oil companies should focus instead on
drilling on much of the 68 million acres that they have leased
but not used for exploration.
Asked, however, if he expected to have the votes to block
legislation to lift the moratorium in face of soaring gasoline
prices, Reid told a news conferences, "We will have to wait and
Reid said he hoped to have legislation introduced this week
to crack down on oil speculators.
On the other side of the Capitol, Rep. Edward Markey, a
Massachusetts Democrat, mocked Bush's call earlier in the day
to lift the ban.
"The Bush oil policy is an attempt at mass deception by a
White House that has, for the last seven and a half years,
pursued Big Oil's agenda of drill, drill, drill," Markey,
chairman of a select House of Representatives committee on
energy independence, told a news conference.
"Drill, drill, drill has failed, failed, failed," Markey
said. "It has failed to make America energy independent. It has
failed to prevent rising prices at the pump."
(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Russell Blinch and