Continuing a campaign to focus national attention on America's needs to develop new energy supplies President Bush stood at the White House podium on Tuesday to repeat his message to Congress that needs to act now to increase the supply of domestic oil by permitting offshore drilling, exploration of ANWR in Alaska and oil shale development.
Today's press conference was a follow-on to his announcement on Monday that he was lifting the executive ban on increased offshore drilling and he called on Congress to do the same.
President Bush has been demanding attention to the energy issue since the first days of his Administration (photo chronicle of his efforts to highlight alternative fuels is here). And yet, every year, the only action from Democrats in Congress has been to use the issue as a political football or to use it to raise taxes, not increase energy supplies.
Are Democrats Listening to The American People?
In June we learned from Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole (R) what aggressive measures House Republicans were taking to address the issue and how that effort has been obstructed by Democrats. There was hope that after House Democrats got an earful on high gas prices from their constituents they would be willing to be more flexible on the issue after returning from their break. Unfortunately, House Speaker Pelosi announced that rather than even permit a discussion on more oil drilling, no energy bill would be brought to a vote.
Up to now, Democrat attention to the energy issue can be summed up by this quote of a Democrat congressional aide:"Right now, our strategy on gas prices is ‘Drive small cars and wait for the wind.’"
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are not sitting still. U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the Gas Price Reduction Act of 2008 on June 26, 2008 with 43 GOP Senators as co-sponsors. The legislation is a compromise designed to attract Democrat votes as it omits drilling in Alaska's ANWR.
Key points of the legislation:
- Remove the ban on offshore drilling 50 miles beyond the shore except on the Florida Gulf coast where drilling is still banned.
- Remove the moratorium on development of oil shales in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming.
- Foster development of "plug in" electric cars and trucks.
- Tighten regulation of commodities markets.
10 Democrat Senators have recently been quoted suggesting that drilling for new oil may be necessary. And it's not hard to understand why they would change on this issue. Polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans favor drilling for new domestic oil supplies. And the following Democrat Senators are up for re-election this year:
Mark Pryor of Arkansas
Joe Biden of Delaware
Dick Durbin of Illinois
Tom Harkin of Iowa
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana
John Kerry of Massachusetts
Carl Levin of Michigan
Max Baucus of Montana
Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey
Jack Reed of Rhode Island
Tim Johnson of South Dakota
Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia
Voters in those states should waste no time contacting BOTH their senators and demanding they support the legislation.
Is Senate Leader Reid Listening?
Response from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been typical. Once again he trotted out the flawed talking point that oil companies already have permission to drill in areas where no oil is likely to be found. But, he also reiterated that Democrats were not opposed to finding new domestic supplies of oil, so it seems he should endorse allowing oil companies to drill where they feel oil is more likely to be found.
Reid also repeated a desire for more wind power. While Democrats criticize drilling as an immediate solution (ignoring the psychology of the market to do so) Reid and friends seem oblivious to the fact that energy solutions from alternatives like wind power will take years and years longer than drilling.
If only we could harness the wind power coming from Democrats on this issue all our energy problems would be solved!