WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent today welcomed news that Speaker Nancy Pelosi would give in to the demands of House Republicans and the American people by not trying to renew decades-old bans on offshore and oil shale energy– an important step in America’s efforts to produce its own energy.

Each year since 1981 Congress has prohibited the Interior Department from spending money on drilling leases in Outer Continental Shelf waters along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, in effect banning energy companies from even drilling exploratory wells or undertaking seismic studies in sea bottoms experts say contain billions of barrels of oil. Congress has done this by reinstating the ban in appropriations legislation.

However, this year Congress didn’t even consider appropriations bills. Instead, House leadership will offer continuing resolution legislation to fund ongoing operations for FY09. This legislation, expected this week, does not appear to include the offshore exploration ban.

“Opening these American lands for energy exploration is only part of a comprehensive energy strategy, but it is an important one,” Congressman Dent said. “I support a multi-pronged approach to our energy policy that addresses our immediate issue of instability of petroleum and natural gas – caused by an over-reliance on foreign sources – and also develops new forms of energy for a future without those sources.”

Rep. Dent said that with the ban lifted, Congress should finally consider bipartisan energy legislation, such as the National Conservation, Environment and Energy Independence Act (HR 6709) introduced by Rep. John Peterson (R-PA) and Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI).

This legislation removes restrictions on oil and gas exploration in several onshore and offshore locations, and directs that a portion of the estimated $2.6 trillion in revenues from those operations to alternative energy development and energy conservation efforts.