Drill-Shy Congress

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, September 17, 2008 4:20 PM PT

House Democrats have passed an "oil drilling bill" that bans drilling where most of the oil is. President Bush and congressional Republicans — especially John McCain — can't let them get away with it.


Those who recognize that our reliance on foreign oil from regimes that fund or facilitate terrorists constitutes an ever-more-serious threat to our national and economic security are hailing Oct. 1 as American Energy Freedom Day.

On that first day of the new fiscal year, the congressional prohibitions expire on offshore drilling for oil and natural gas, as well as for the oil shale available in Western states.

The Democratic-controlled, do-nothing Congress for once is frantic to do something before that deadline hits. In a big election year, with summer gas prices exceeding $4 a gallon, voters won't swallow an extension of the ban.

So Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday had the House of Representatives pass legislation she unveiled less than 24 hours earlier, with Republicans blocked from offering amendments.

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."

Not all Republicans. Over in the Senate, Republican Saxby Chambliss of Georgia has been leading a bipartisan group that, like Pelosi, would keep almost all known oil reserves off limits. Meantime, the oil and gas industry would be slapped with $30 billion in new taxes for alternative fuels and vehicles — costs sure to be passed on to consumers. Some 20 senators have signed on.

Pelosi supported "drilling" knowing her bill was doomed. The president has threatened a veto, and both party whips in the Senate indicate that neither the House legislation nor the Gang of 20 bill will gain the support of 60 senators and thus prevent filibuster.

It all makes for a great opportunity. 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.

If Congress instead renews the ban, Republicans, having stood with a public demanding drilling, would still look good.

Energy security, lower gasoline prices and the key to an until-now-unlikely victory in this year's elections are less than two weeks away for Republicans — if they stand firm against phony drilling bills.
http://ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.as ... 4687140217