The Senate plans to vote on an offshore drilling bill next week that would open more than 8 million acres to energy development in the Gulf of Mexico. Although the bill’s passage appears to be safe, Democrats are already lining up to oppose it.
Even though the Senate bill is only a modest step in comparison with a much stronger House equivalent, Democrats opposed to it will once again prove they have a greater interest in keeping gas prices high than letting Americans drill our own oil to reduce the need from the Middle East.
Shortly after yesterday’s procedural vote in the Senate, for instance, Energy and Natural Resources Ranking Member Jeff Bingaman (D.-N.M.) said the bill was “seriously flawed,” according to the New York Times. Another Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), wants to add amendments addressing fuel efficiency for cars, targeting oil companies’ profits and promoting environmentalist-friendly energy sources.
As Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) said today, “Some say that there has been no coherent Democrat energy strategy since early in the Clinton Administration. Well, I disagree. They have a strategy. It’s just he wrong one.”
With the November midterm elections approaching—and gas prices at more than $3 per gallon—President Bush should pin America’s energy problems on the Democratic Party.
For years Democrats have blocked common-sense energy solutions. As the Heritage Foundation’s Ben Lieberman writes today on Human Events Online, Democrats have thwarted drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, construction of new refineries and opposed measures to simplify the complex gasoline formula.
Now, even with gas prices on voters’ minds, Democrats are threatening to do it again. The U.S. Senate should pass the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (S. 3711) next week, but House Republicans should demand the Senate compromise and agree to a bill that resembles the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act (H.R. 4761). That plan, sponsored by Resources Chairman Richard Pombo (R.-Calif.), could provide up to 10 times more energy than the Senate proposal.
Republicans wanting an advantage at the polls in November should trumpet Democrats’ obstructionism on energy. And as the leader of his party, President Bush should make his voice the loudest.
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