You know, I really don't get all of this. I don't get why the ban on the outer continental shelf needs to be lifted in the first place - unless it's just Bush pulling favors for his friends, taking advantage of our current fear of foreign oil dependence because of current prices.
As others have pointed out, the problem with oil prices is not supply. For us in the U.S., a large part of the problem is the value of the U.S. dollar, which hit a low against the Euro on Monday. And issues with supply isn't access to areas to drill for oil and natural gas - there are plenty. The problem is refining capacity AND the rigs needed to the drilling and exploration, whether on-shore or off.
With oil prices where they are, so many areas that were previously uneconomic to explore domestically have become economic to explore. Even if oil falls to $85 a barrel, there are still huge tracts/fields that could become economic producers.
I haven't been able to find info (though my searching is limited because we recently moved and don't have high speed internet access) on the geologies - which range widely, because banned OCS areas are off the East Coast, the West Coast and the Gulf Coast. But I have to assume that part of the attraction here is water depth, drill depths required, and/or the size of the fields. What lifting the ban does is potentially raise the margins to the oil companies either way.
In searching for info, I found that according to http://www.offshore-mag.com
in 2000, US regulatory authorities formally authorized incentives for operators that bring a well online on (not banned areas of) the shelf (= <600 ft of water) drilled to greater than 15,000 ft of total vertical depth. And while the fact is that the capital costs are more expensive in deep water or for deep drilling, the wells are more productive. In 2007, for the first time in history, all 20 of the highest producing blocks in the Gulf were in deepwater.
More to the point, in the Gulf of Mexico leases are small (sold in 500,000 acre blocks vs. 1 million acre blocks off the coast of Africa) and it can be prohibitive to maintain leases given all the hoops companies must jump through to keep them and prevent them from going back to the auction block.
IMO, what the government should be doing is changing leasing policy, not lifting bans on drilling on the outer continental shelf.