WASHINGTON, D.C. --- President Bush today lifted a presidential ban, implemented by his father, on offshore oil drilling on the outer continental shelf, the Washington Post reported. The move is expected to escalate a confrontation with Democrats in Congress over how to confront the problem of skyrocketing gasoline prices.

Lifting the executive moratorium has no immediate effect, because Congress enacted its own prohibition on offshore drilling in 1981. Before exploration can proceed, the Congressional ban would have to be rescinded, the Post reported. 

During the Rose Garden announcement, Bush argued that allowing drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines would ease pressure on oil prices by increasing domestic production. Bush also pushed for drilling in the Alaskan wilderness and access to oil shale in a basin that stretches across parts of Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.

He blamed congressional opposition to drilling for the current rise in gas prices. "We need to take action now to expand domestic oil production," Bush said.