Republicans and Democrats on Energy

In yesterday’s radio address, John McCain talked about how the energy issue unites foreign and domestic policy. He began with Russia’s invasion of Georgia, and explained how that conflict relates to energy and thus to domestic policy:

Georgia stands at a strategic crossroads in the Caucasus. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which brings oil from the Caspian to points west, traverses Georgia. And if that pipeline were destroyed or controlled by Russia, European energy supplies would be even more vulnerable to Russian influence.

There are many reasons why the Russian invasion of Georgia is of grave concern to America and to our allies. Above all, Georgia is a struggling democracy where Soviet tyranny is still fresh in memory. And when young democracies are threatened or attacked, and innocent civilians are targeted, they should be able to count on the free world for support and solidarity.

Another very serious concern is the effect of this aggression and conflict on the world energy market. For some time now, I have been making the case for a dramatic acceleration of domestic energy production, primarily on economic grounds. With high prices and growing demand for oil and gas, Americans cannot remain dependent upon others for the most vital of commodities. But now we are reminded that energy policy is also a matter of the highest priority for our nation’s security.

McCain aligned himself unequivocally with the “all of the above” approach championed by Congressional Republicans:

All of this only adds to the urgency of producing more of our own energy, including America’s enormous oil reserves that lie offshore. We need to drill here and drill now, so that our energy supplies and the strength of our economy do not depend on the decisions or dictates of foreign powers.

On energy policy, my opponent and his allies in Congress offer only half measures or no measures at all — as in their shared opposition to offshore drilling. In the long term, most everyone agrees that America must shift toward alternative energies like wind, solar, tide, hydrogen, and bio-fuels. But my opponent’s policies fail to meet the challenges of the immediate future. To achieve energy independence, America will need every resource at our disposal, including nuclear power and the use of our abundant coal supplies that lie from Colorado to West Virginia. America has multiple choices in the great test of energy independence and the right answer is “all of the above.”

We can hope, perhaps, that before long “all” will include ANWR, as well.

The Democrats, meanwhile, can no longer take the heat that their unpopular energy policy has generated. Yesterday Nancy Pelosi, like McCain, devoted the Democrats’ weekly radio address to energy. Her talk consisted largely of shameless demagoguery, denouncing the “two oil men” in the White House and making the absurd claim that the recent $20 per barrel drop in the price of oil was due to legislation mandating that we stop buying petroleum the the strategic reserve. I sometimes wonder: how does it feel to give a speech that you know will be believed only by the stupid and the completely uninformed? Somehow, Pelosi doesn’t seem to mind.

Democratic demagoguery is not newsworthy, of course, and Pelosi’s description of the Democrats’ energy policy was mostly the same laundry list of fraudulent measures that we have seen over and over: “use it or lose it,” “expand” drilling in Alaska’s NPR region, where there is actually no drilling going on for reasons the Democrats propose do to nothing about, including the absence of any pipeline there, and so on. The news that came out of Pelosi’s address was her reference to offshore drilling:

It will consider opening portions of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling, with appropriate safeguards, and without taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil.

It is indicative of what thin gruel the Democrats’ energy proposals have been that willingness to “consider opening portions” of the OCS constitutes big news. Sources close to Pelosi say that she refers to “several east coast states” that will have the option to allow drilling, but not Florida or California. As we noted here, the oil that can most readily be accessed–in months, not years–is off the coast of California, in an area where drilling would improve the environment by reducing natural seepage of oil.

The Democrats’ strategy is obvious. They want to pretend to include some drilling in their legislative package as a fig leaf, when in fact, they do not intend that any such drilling will ever actually occur. Whether the voters will be fooled by this approach is the great unanswered question about November’s election.

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