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American Energy Freedom Day is coming

Posted by Richard on September 18, 2008

October 1 is being called American Energy Freedom Day because that's the day on which the current bans on oil shale and offshore drilling expire. Congressional Democrats are between a rock and a hard place on this one. That's why, as Investor's Business Daily noted, they hurriedly threw together an "energy bill" and rammed it through the House the other day:

The move won them misleading headlines declaring that Pelosi's Democrats had "eased offshore drilling ban" in what the press described as "a stark reversal." 

But Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Republicans' Study Committee chairman, correctly called the bill "a sham" with no provision addressing the dire need for construction of new oil refineries, "no clean coal, no energy exploration in arctic Alaska, no nuclear energy and — if you read it — no exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf for energy in their bill." 

Behind this bill to drill that doesn't is radical environmentalist ideology.  "They look at our oil and gas reserves and see toxic waste sites," Hensarling quipped.  "Republicans look at our oil and gas reserves and see vast and valuable natural resources that will ease pain at the pump and lessen our dependence on foreign oil."

The bill appears to have no chance in the Senate and would almost certainly be vetoed if passed. IBD pointed out that this presents Republicans with a terrific opportunity, since an overwhelming majority of Americans favor more drilling: 

Republicans could take that Oct. 1 deadline and act like a winning football team — by running out the clock.  President Bush and Sen. McCain could lead the chorus counting the days to American Energy Freedom Day. 

Then once the clock has run out and the drilling ban is gone, McCain and other GOP candidates can spend the final month of the campaign basking in the credit they'd get from the American people — especially since oil prices are sure to drop in reaction to the ban's expiration.

There's just one complication: As is usually the case when the GOP is about to win one, members of their own party have tried to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Ten Republican senators have joined with ten Democrats (the "Gang of 20") to propose a "bipartisan compromise" that would cost $84 billion, increase energy taxes (which you and I will pay) by $30 billion, and only pretend to increase access to more new oil supplies. Colorado's Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer quite accurately described it as "40% tax increase, 10% energy and 50% snake oil."

Chris at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy totally demolished the five key parts of this plan in a must-read post, concluding:

This is a disaster. If it doesn’t pass the media and democrats will light up with “Republicans kill increased drilling”. If it does pass, the republicans lose an issue to beat Obama up. Even worse is if it gets stuck in committee. Here’s that scenario. Mr. Representative wanna-be, where do you stand on drilling? “I support the ‘American Energy Act’ sitting in congress. I’ll make sure it’s passed”. Bam. Good bye issue. Of course, when he wins and the dems keep control, it will never come up and we’ll be stuck with high oil and gas prices as Nancy Pelosi tries to save the Earth.

The other problem is that even if it passes, it won’t increase supply. Two years from now, people will be wondering what the heck happened to all that drilling they had heard was coming. They won’t remember that it provided no incentives for the states to drill. They’ll just blame those evil oil companies and their republican allies.

We have the chance to win with this issue. If we do nothing over the next 2 weeks, the ban ends and the democrats will have to vote to re-instate it. The gang of idiots needs to be stopped before they can disarm the only issue that the republicans can win with.

According to The Hill, the Gang of 20 has now decided not to introduce a bill until after the election, instead issuing a "statement of principals (sic) outlining their agreement on a host of divisive issues, including expanded offshore drilling." Which makes it clear that the gang — Republicans and Democrats alike — are simply gutless, unprincipled opportunists who put this sham plan together so they could talk out of both sides of their mouths to the voters back home (9 of the 20 are up for reelection). 

Call and/or email your senators and congresscritter and tell them to let the ban expire. Tell them we don't need new taxes or massive new porkbarrel spending, we just need Congress to stop blocking access to energy.

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