Nancy Pelosi now says that she is “open to drilling,” but It’s probably more accurate to say that she is open to not being crushed in November. She can read the polls, and an overwhelming majority of Americans support the Republicans’ position, that it is important to develop our own energy resources. Pelosi says she could support drilling (or a vote, anyway) if drilling is part of a broader strategy. But of course the Republicans in Congress are pushing the “all of the above” approach, so that isn’t really the issue.
The Republicans have gotten traction with their ongoing protest in the House chamber. More Republicans have returned to Washington during the recess to man the effort. One of those is my friend and Congressman, John Kline, who led today’s effort. He did a series of interviews through the day, including one with bloggers, and live-blogged the proceedings on his official site. Now that voters are becoming aware that the Republicans are the ones who want to employ Americans to develop our own resources rather than continuing to outsource our energy production by shipping $700 billion a year abroad–there’s a tough decision!–the Democrats have no choice but to pretend, at least, to be in the mainstream on the energy issue.
Which doesn’t mean that a meaningful energy package will be enacted. The Republicans want a vote on their American Energy Act, but I don’t think there is any way they can force it, except perhaps through public pressure. The Democrats’ strategy will be to put together a package that includes a token amount of drilling, but does nothing to clear away the thicket of regulations and litigation that surrounds any actual attempt to extract petroleum from the ground. They will then count on their allies in the plaintiffs’ bar to tie up any oil production for years, if not decades, to come. This is the strategy they have employed successfully with respect to the NPR-A region of Alaska.
One of the Democrats’ problems is that Congress’s ban on offshore drilling and shale oil development will expire in 49 days. The Democrats would like to extend the ban, thereby damaging our economy further, but it’s hard to see how they can.
So that’s the maneuvering that will take place over the coming weeks: the Republicans will be trying to unleash our economy, create great jobs, and keep some, at least, of that $700 billion at home. The Democrats will be trying to cripple our economy further by imposing “windfall profits” taxes to disable our own oil companies, which are puny by international standards, and otherwise pretend to help solve our energy problems by subsidizing a random selection of their friends and political supporters.
The one thing you can be sure of is that the accounts you read in your daily newspaper over the next three months will bear no resemblance to what is actually going on in Washington.
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