No, We Can’t
President Obama enjoys comparing himself favorably to his predecessor. As a candidate he called the Bush Administration “one of the most secretive, closed administrations in history.” As President, Obama has pledged “an unprecedented level of openness in government.”
Unless, that is, you want to voice your opinion as a citizen on whether we should reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by developing offshore oil and gas reserves.
Whether you’re pro or con, if you want to comment on offshore drilling, the “Yes, We Can!” Obama Administration has a simple, three-word answer for you:
No, you can’t.
The Bush Interior Department Was Open to Public Comment (Pro and Con) on Drilling
This is change alright, but not the good kind.
Last July, you may remember, President Bush rescinded the 18-year-old executive ban on offshore drilling in order to access the estimated 115 billion barrels of oil on the outer continental shelf.
The elimination of the ban kicked off a regulatory process at the Interior Department to determine where to drill. The public was invited to comment.
As part of the “Drill Here, Drill Now” campaign, American Solutions put out the call to supporters of responsible offshore drilling to make their voices heard.
The “Drill Here, Drill Now” Campaign Was a Success of Citizen Activism
The process was simple. From AmericanSolutions.com, it was just two clicks on the computer to the government officials who were determining where the new oil and gas leases would be located.
Just two steps.
The response was overwhelming. From American Solutions alone, nearly 40,000 Americans used this simple, online process to let Bush Interior Department officials know they supported safe offshore drilling. In the end, supporters of responsible domestic energy production won the comment period by a margin of 86,000 to 79,000.
And Congress responded to this outpouring of citizen support in September by letting its own moratorium on drilling expire.
The Administration That Has Promised “Unprecedented Openness” Won’t Provide an Email Address for Public Comment
So where are we today? The government has created a proposed list of offshore leasing sites, including off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and California.
And because public comments will be central in determining the fate of this plan, American Solutions once again developed a quick and easy way for Americans to weigh in online. Just go to www.yourenergyopinion.com. Enter your name, your address, and your email. Then hit “send.”
But just as soon as we were about to open this window, the Obama Administration slammed it shut.
The government that has pledged itself to “unprecedented openness” and “collaboration” with the American people has refused to provide a government email address to forward public comments to.
Instead of a Simple Email Address, You Have to Follow a Hopelessly Complicated, Ten-Step Process
Instead of this simplified process, citizens have to undertake a hopelessly complicated, difficult to follow, ten-step process that goes like this:
1. First go to http://www.regulations.gov. Notice that there is no link on that page about submitting comments on offshore drilling.
2. Instead, the next step is to click the link next to “Advanced Docket Search” under “More Search Options.”
3. Then, you have to click the drop-down menu labeled “Agency” and select “Minerals Management Service.”
4. Then, if you aren’t frustrated enough by this tedious process, you have to manually enter the identification code for offshore drilling. How do you find that? Go to the Department of the Interior and look at the Minerals Management Website.
5. Once you’ve found the code — the easily memorized “MMS-2008-OMM-0045” — go back to www.regulations.gov and enter it into the “Docket ID” box.
Fed up yet? You’re only halfway there.
6. Click “Submit” and wait for the system to retrieve the right regulation for you to comment on. Hopefully you entered the 16-character code correctly or else you will have to start over.
7. If you entered everything correctly, you have to click the link for the code you entered. That code again is “MMS-2008-OMM-0045.”
8. Then, you will probably see a list of results (although the system doesn’t work correctly every time and sometimes you have to resubmit everything.) In those list of results, at the top of the list is the docket ID “MMS-2008-OMM-0045-0001.” Click the yellow balloon under “Add Comments” on the same line as that ID. (Notice, too, that the ID you are commenting on isn’t even the same complicated code that you had to enter to get to this page.)
9. If you still have enough patience, fill out all of the required fields.
10. Finally, submit your comments to the Department of Interior about offshore drilling.
To Make Your Voice Heard on the Environment…You Must Hurt the Environment
Of course, if you really want to have your voice heard on offshore drilling, you could use one of the other options made available by the Obama Administration:
1. Write your opinion down on paper and spend the time and the postage it takes to use snail mail.
2. Write your opinion down on paper and travel to Virginia and deliver your comments in person.
3. Travel to one of four town meetings and hope you get called on.
Some would argue that all of these options are less cumbersome than using www.regulations.gov, but all of them are less ‘green’ than a paperless email system.
The irony: Being forced to hurt the environment to voice your opinion on the environment.
American Solutions Has Your Back
If President Obama really wants to have the most open government in American history, he should allow citizens to email their comments on offshore drilling.
It won’t necessarily distinguish him from his predecessor, but it would be the right thing to do.
While we wait for President Obama to make up his mind on what he believes, American Solutions will make sure what the American people believe is heard by President Obama.
Simply go to www.yourenergyopinion.com and enter your information and support for safe, responsible offshore drilling.
American Solutions will store your comments, and if the Obama Administration still refuses to practice the transparency they preach, we will hand deliver your letter for you to the Department of the Interior.
Announcement: I Will Be Speaking at the New York Tax Day Tea Party
April 15 is just a week away. As you prepare to pay the cost of big government next Wednesday, make sure to arrange to fight back against the high spending, high borrowing, high-taxing Obama budget by attending a Tax Day Tea Party on April 15.
The Tax Day Tea Party movement has become a nationwide, grassroots phenomenon.
I am looking forward to speaking at the New York City Tea Party. If you live in the area, I hope you will join me.
Fox’s Sean Hannity will be broadcasting live from the Tea Party in Atlanta.
American Solutions’ Dave Ryan will also be in Atlanta, and Princella Smith will be speaking at the Washington, D.C., Tea Party.
I encourage you to attend a Tea Party rally in your area. I am working with two groups to get people to the rallies.
The first group is TaxDayTeaParty.com, a broad coalition of grassroots groups which has already organized many of the Tea Parties that you probably heard about. They have already confirmed more than 400 locations in all 50 states for the April 15 Tea Parties.
The second group is TeaPartyDay.com which is a joint effort by Renewing American Leadership and the American Family Association. They are committed to bringing people of faith and their families to the Tea Parties to show support for the family budget over the federal budget. They have over 2,000 organizers in 1,800 cities on their website.
But Before You Go, Arm Yourself With the Facts
The more we learn about the Obama budget, the worse it looks. Consider these facts, compiled by the Institute for Policy Innovation:
- Under the Obama budget, the Congressional Budget Office projects that the national debt will soar over the next 10 years from 40 percent of GDP today to a shocking 82.4 percent. (Ronald Reagan left office with the national debt at 42 percent of GDP).
- The president’s budget also states that total federal borrowing will grow by $2.7 trillion this year alone, an increase of 27 percent in one year!
- The budget President Obama proposes for this year increases federal spending by an incredible 34 percent over the previous year, with a total of $4 trillion in federal spending, the highest ever.
Before you head off to a Tax Day Tea Party next Wednesday, arm yourself with the facts about the Obama budget. And remember to go to www.AmericanSolutions.com/TeaParty and get your Took Kit for Tea Parties.
Come out on April 15 and make your voice heard.
Newt’s Quick Links:
My statement on “Fox News Sunday” that the North Koreans should never have been allowed to fire a long-range ballistic missile, as they did last week, has attracted a lot of attention. But as I mentioned in this article on National Review Online back in 2006, the strategy of just talking to North Koreans failed long ago. And as my co-author Bill Forstchen illustrates so vividly in his new book, One Second After, if the North Koreans use their new missile technology to launch an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States, the results would be truly devastating.