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Member Questions of the Week of June 21, 2010

Charles Wascheck of Newark, DE asks: “How many members of Congress look for and read the position papers and briefs put out by Heritage?

OUR ANSWER: We’re so glad you asked! Last year, Heritage analysts met personally with individual U.S. senators and representatives nearly 100 times to share policy recommendations, in-depth analyses and conservative ideas. And experts briefed or met with Congressional staff members more than 500 times. Heritage Government Relations directors also arranged 33 briefings for Congressional and gubernatorial candidates. This election cycle, that number is beyond 120. Before folks even take office, they enlist Heritage help to shape their positions! Note that all of these numbers refer specifically to face-to-face meetings. Factor in e-mail blasts and independent visits to Heritage.org, and it’s safe to say most members of Congress have viewed Heritage products at one time or another. They do more than view them, too: In 2009, The Heritage Foundation received more than 100 mentions in speeches on the House and Senate floors.

Wayne Brown of Germantown, TN asks: “Are there any local chapters of the foundation? If so, any in my area? I would like to be involved more directly between now and November and beyond.”
OUR ANSWER: A total of 13 “community committees” across the country plan local events for Heritage members. Past events have included a luncheon with Karl Rove in Dallas, a panel discussion with Ambassador John Bolton in Chicago and a lecture by Steve Forbes in Naples, Fla. While Tennessee doesn’t have a committee, you can still engage with Heritage from home. Subscribe to the Morning Bell to stay up-to-date on the day’s top news, watch videos of Heritage events, listen to podcasts with Heritage experts or leave a comment on a recent blog post. We appreciate your interest.

Gerard Laliberte of Mechanicsburg, PA asks: “When was our offshore oil drilling restricted? Who restricted drilling? How far from shore must we go to drill?”
OUR ANSWER: According to Heritage energy specialist Ben Lieberman, presidential restrictions on offshore drilling began with George Bush and were extended by Bill Clinton. They were repealed by George W. Bush in 2008. Congressional restrictions began in the 1980s and grew over time to include more areas. The restrictions limited drilling to primarily the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico — but were allowed to lapse in 2008, as well.

However, in response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama on May 27 announced a six-month drilling moratorium. As Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar explained in a memo about the moratorium, the measure suspends “all pending, current or approved offshore drilling operations of new deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific regions.” The moratorium took effect May 30 and applies to activity at depths greater than 500 feet. Department of Interior officials say the moratorium is necessary because the drilling of new offshore wells poses “an unacceptable threat of serious and irreparable harm or damage to wildlife and the marine, coastal and human environment.” But some researchers say the moratorium will cost the Gulf states billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. In fact, even experts who Secretary Salazar said approved the ban actually oppose it. These experts told The New Orleans Times-Picayune they supported a ban on new drilling in waters deeper than 1,000 feet, but think “a blanket moratorium is not the answer.” What is the answer? Heritage energy experts have outlined a plan to stop the slick and save the environment. Read our “Framework for Response, Recovery and Resiliency” paper here.

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