Ten years ago, President George W. Bush presented his energy plan to the United States Congress. The plan included $33.5 billion in tax incentives for energy companies to expand drilling for oil, natural gas and mining for coal. The plan also expanded energy conservation measures.
One of the key components of the energy plan was expanding domestic oil drilling so that the United States could finally wean itself off foreign oil. The United States House of Representatives embraced the plan, which called for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
Unfortunately for Americans, the legislation then went to the Senate.
Led by John Kerry (D.-Mass.), Senate Democrats decried the Bush energy plan and claimed that ANWR had only six months of oil in it — a lie — and that it would not be ready for drilling “for ten years.”
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D.-N.M.) on May 1, 2001, told National Public Radio, “I don’t believe the votes are here in the Congress to support opening ANWR to drilling and development, and I really don’t think that opening ANWR is a real solution to any of the energy needs we have here over the next eight or 10 years.”
On May 8, 2001, Sen. Bingaman was at it again with the 10-year canard, again telling NPR, “Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge wouldn’t get us any oil for at least 10 years and I don’t think it’s a priority to do that at this point.” Well, thank God we had Sen. Bingaman and his crystal ball to assure us that ANWR oil was not a priority.
It is important to remember that Democrats claimed ANWR was not important because there was supposedly only six months of oil under the surface. Only Democrats made that claim. As the Christian Science Monitor noted on Aug. 1, 2001, “Geologists estimate that there could be a significant amount of oil beneath the coastal plain of ANWR, up along the Beaufort Sea and just East of the Prudhoe Bay facilities that have been sending oil South through the Trans Alaska Pipeline since 1977.”
On Aug. 3, 2001, the Canadian Press became just a bit giddy that the U.S. Senate Democrats were on the verge of killing ANWR drilling. Why? Because the U.S. would become more dependent on Canadian oil. The Edmonton Journal reported, “Critics, including Sen. John F. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, say the drilling plan would violate the nation’s last remaining pristine wilderness. Moreover, they charge, the oil cache to be yielded from ANWR would consist only of a six-month supply for the nation and would not be ready for use by consumers for up to 10 years.”
By March of 2002, the ANWR debate was over. Senate Republicans were unable to get 60 votes to overcome a Democrat-led filibuster that included a handful of Republican opponents to ANWR. Ten years later, at the point that everyone agreed ANWR oil would be making it into the marketplace, the oil fields remain undeveloped.
It is not just ANWR the Democrats left untouched. Republicans also wanted to begin shore drilling. President Bush submitted a plan for the drilling off the coast of Florida and elsewhere. Republicans and Democrats in the nearby states opposed the drillings, but Democrats led the charge. That too was blocked.
Fast forward to 2011. We are at the date where oil would be coming on line from off the coast and on ANWR. Coupled with that, the Obama Administration has shut down existing drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, using the Deep Water Horizon accident
as an excuse. When a federal judge overturned the original moratorium, the Obama Administration imposed a second one.
As of this writing, the United States extracts less domestic oil today than before Barack Obama entered office, the secretary of Energy claims higher gas prices are a good thing, and somehow the Democrats’ best response is “don’t blame us.” Blame the Democrats for higher gas prices.