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The federal offshore oil leasing program has generated more than $100 billion for the federal government, and the Outer Continental Shelf represents the greatest potential for oil and gas reserves remaining in the United States. But most U.S. coastal states oppose offshore development, and the battle resulting from these conflicting forces has raged through the last five presidential administrations and concurrent sessions of Congress. This book tells the history of the. Debate, puts it in perspective, and explores the prospects for future development. It traces the factors that led to the ascendancy of oil as an energy source, the emergence of the technology that made undersea extraction possible, the political forces that led to the dramatic offshore boom in the Gulf of Mexico, and the national policies that eventually produced the closing of virtually all offshore federal lands to the agency created within the Department of Interior. To exploit them.