Drilling Rebels Keep Fighting During Republican Convention

As the Democrats held caucuses on energy policy behind closed doors at their Denver convention last week, House Republicans continued their energy revolt, putting forth solutions to America’s energy crisis to a steady stream of vacationers seated in their colleagues’ seats in the House chamber. GOP members continued their invitation to their Democrat colleagues to join the discussion and have an up-or-down vote on an all-of-the-above energy strategy.

Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, was none too thrilled with what he believes will be constructed by Democrats behind closed doors to then be dumped on Congress without going through the normal processes. McCotter told me, “Our concern is twofold. Number one is that they’re going to put pressure on their targeted members to back off their support for the all-of-the-above energy strategy and number two in terms of what comes out of there we want it to go through regular order, let everybody have a chance to write it instead of [have] something endorsed by the Sierra Club a nebulous proposal when their director says that we are better off without cheap gas. Unfortunately he’s including us in that ‘we,’ and I fundamentally disagree with that.”

McCotter is referring to the Sierra Club having over three weeks ago pre-endorsed any bill Pelosi would construct and put before Congress in this highly unorthodox manner. In the 2006 March/April issue of Sierra Magazine, Executive Director Carl Pope is quoted as saying, “We’re better off without cheap gas.”

McCotter’s solution: “We need an all-of-the-above energy strategy for a responsible transition to American energy security independence that has three vital components. One, maximum American energy production, two, common sense conservation and three, free market innovations. Put those three things in a bill and not only will we vote for it but, most importantly, Americans will be better off.”

On the Democrats’ months-long machinations to avoid any vote on a comprehensive energy bill that includes drilling, McCotter says, “Let’s just point out statistically that the Democrats’ ‘done nothing don’t care’ Congress is the most hated in history and clearly with good reason.”

Pelosi and her small group of greenies have misused their power in placing their own radical liberal agenda in higher priority than the bi-partisan majority will of the rest of the people’s House and the best interests of the American people.

Jack Kingston (R-GA), explained in a cloakroom interview, “If you think about blue versus red state America, they don’t have constituents that are in rural areas so they don’t understand the guy who’s on a household income of $50,000 a year and drives 30-40 miles a day roundtrip to work at the plant. They do not understand that kind of constituent.”

Which, I might add, constitutes the overwhelming majority of we the people who make this country work.

Kingston added, “A lot of it [opposition to drilling ANWR] is a misunderstanding and an obsession with we can’t do anything to nature. But what’s also interesting is when the Sierra Club members come to lobby me they are driving a car that got oil from the ground somewhere. Now if we live on the fragile island planet that Nancy Pelosi and the Sierra Club are trying to say we live on, what’s the difference between drilling here and drilling in Saudi Arabia? America has the highest environmental standards in the world… wouldn’t they want to fuel their cars with American EPA standardized gas?”

Steve King (R-Iowa) last week shared his personal knowledge of exploration of the North Shore of Alaska. In 1970, King went to Alaska as part of a group hired by an Iowa-based company contracted to build roads for the construction of the Alaska pipeline until efforts were halted by litigation. Mixed in with colorful anecdotes (“When I was signed up they had to pay us $9.75 an hour, which was great wages back in 1970… because the rules then were there was no gambling, no alcohol, no guns and no women. I guess they knew that any combination of those four could cause trouble”) was a detailed, first-hand rebuttal of the absurd argument Pelosi is putting forth claiming drilling will take 10 years to produce results.

King explained, “Back in 1970, environmental extremists filed lawsuits to block the development of the North Slope of Alaska and then, as they went through this litigation, Don Young, when he was elected to Congress, introduced the legislation that cleared out all of the litigation that had stalled all of the development of the North Slope of Alaska oil fields from 1970, ‘71 and ‘72 and most of the way through 73… From the time that Congress cleared the litigation, in 35 months they had oil running from the pipeline ready to load on tankers at Valdez. And that’s after having drilled the wells, set up the collection tubes, built the terminal at Dead Horse, mile post zero at the head of the Alaska pipeline on that end, built 854 miles of pipeline down to Valdez where they built another terminal where they could load tankers and 600 miles of right of way [roads] that I was signed up on to build. All of that happened in 35 months.”

ANWR is located only 70 miles from this pipeline. The only thing that would possibly take more than 10 years is all of the obstructionist litigation by environmental extremists which — by their own design — accompanies any effort to responsibly use America’s energy resources.

Rob Bishop (R-Utah) spoke with me about the over three trillion barrels of oil (by some estimates) available in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado from oil shale production. Three trillion barrels is a larger reserve than any other oil reserve in the world. Companies large and small have invested millions of dollars to develop this resource. Bishop explained that litigation also stymies this process. “There are three areas that are the bulk of the oil shale production, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado… the technology is improving all the time,” he said. “It has become much cheaper, it requires less water than ever before and it can be done with a smaller footprint… There is some competition in the United States to make sure that all people who have leases have a fair start. It’s on federal land, meaning you need a federal permit and you have to go through the licensing process… first you have to have a land plan. [Bureau of Land Management] is very cautious because they want to avoid lawsuits…Between lawsuits and the fear of lawsuits, it takes almost forever to get through these problems.”

The more time you spend with the extraordinary Americans at the House energy revolt and the more deeply you look into the reasons behind the American family’s crippling energy costs, the one constant is that a very small group of vocal radical extremists has bought themselves a small but very powerful group of liberal, extremist politicians who through their tyrannical actions are dictating to the nation what can be done with our own natural resources. The Founders built in a remedy for this dilemma: elections.