Tag Archives: drilling ban

Democrat’s Shell Game on Energy

In a little over three weeks, Congress is scheduled to return from their five-week summer vacation. At the top of their agenda will be the oil crisis. Under the current political climate, it will be difficult for Congress to adjourn before Election Day without taking some type of action supposedly designed to relieve the pressure on oil prices. It is becoming clear that the strategy of the Democratic Party is to do as little as possible to increase domestic energy supplies in order to maintain the high price of gasoline.

The congressional ban on expanded drilling in the outer continental shelf, ANWR and other locations in the U.S. expires September 30. Since its implementation in 1981, the ban has been renewed each year as a part of an appropriations bill. Thus far, the democratic dominated Congress has not passed a single appropriations bill for the 2009 fiscal year that begins October 1. They will either have to pass a continuing resolution before they adjourn the 110th Congress or shut down the government for lack of funds.

As the debate nears the deadline, it is beginning to appear that Nancy Pelosi and the socialist/democrats in Congress are intending to “sandbag” the Republicans in order to continue the ban while appearing to the American People to be working on their behalf. Both Obama and Pelosi have signaled a willingness to back away from their adamant opposition to drilling. Both have indicated they would be in favor of permitting more drilling as a part of an overall energy plan.

Meanwhile a group of Republican Congressmen has been staging a protest in the Capitol demanding that Congress cut its vacation short and deal with the crisis. Several Republicans have even expressed a willingness to allow the government to be shut down unless Democrats give in and allow more drilling. What appears to be an advantage for the Republicans, especially with conservatives, has the potential to backfire in favor of the socialist/democrats.

The developing strategy of the Democrats —maybe it has been their strategy all along — seems to be to present a “compromise” bill to congress that allows for a minor expansion of drilling in the OCS off four Southeastern States while continuing the ban otherwise. The Senate already has a similar bill offered by the “Gang of 10” before Congress adjourned at the end of July.

In exchange for the slight lessening of restrictions on drilling, the compromise bill would include a tax on the oil companies’ “windfall profits” and a repeal of tax breaks they are currently getting. There will also be a major hit on the taxpayers for more subsidies to finance alternatives fuels and research into green technology.

Should the Republicans refuse the compromise offered, Pelosi would allow time to run out and shut down the government. The shutdown would then be spun to make it appear to voters that it occurred because of the Republicans unwillingness to work with the Democrats in order to bring down gas prices. This would take place mere weeks before the voters go to the polls. With the assistance of the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party, the national media, this could easily turn out to be victory for Democrats.

By the time the American people realized what had actually happened the election would be over, Democrats would be firmly in charge, our energy crisis would still be with us, and there would be nothing we could do about it.

It is obvious that the motivation Pelosi and the Democrats have in opposing drilling for more oil, even in the face of rising prices and a slowing economy, is more than a mere concern for the environment. The primary motivation is a desire to gain control over the American economy. A major stride in this direction has already been taken in response to the mortgage crisis and collapse of some of the major banking institutions.

A takeover of America’s energy supply would be a major victory for the socialist movement. At least two Democratic legislators have already signaled their intentions in that direction. Congressman Hinchey of New York has said the government should own all of our oil refineries and not the oil companies. Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California has also indicated a desire to take over the oil companies.

Nancy Pelosi may have also have a personal financial motive for keeping the price of gasoline as high as possible, in addition to her socialist idealism. Fox News and Michelle Malkin has reveled that Pelosi has a major investment in T. Boon Pickens’ energy business. In her 2007 financial statement Pelosi listed a $250,000 profit from Pickens’ company. She stands to gain financially in any subsidies voted by Congress to Pickens’ energy projects. The state of California is also considering a ballot initiative (No. 10) to “invest” billions in one of Boon’s natural gas projects.

Instead of demanding a vote on expanded drilling, Republicans should be demanding an investigation of Pelosi’s finances. The ideal outcome for the economy and the American people is to simply allow the drilling ban to expire without any action by Congress. That is unlikely so long as the MSM continues to run interference for the Democratic Party and the socialist movement.

The Republican’s high profile protest over the last two weeks may be good for rallying the base, but it makes it more difficult to avoid voting for any compromise bill offered by Democrats since a vote is exactly what they have been demanding with their protest.

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Bush One, Dems Zero

President Bush announced Monday that he was rescinding the Executive Order banning new off shore oil drilling that his father, George H. W. Bush implemented during his term in office. That does not mean however, that oil companies can begin exploration and drilling operations immediately. Congress passed a similar ban in 1981 and has renewed it every September 30, since then. Until the Congressional ban is either lifted or allowed to expire, there will be no change in the status quo.

This move by President Bush puts the socialist/democrats in Congress in an untenable position politically. They will have to either lift the Congressional ban immediately or face a showdown with the White House only a month before election. Congress cannot renew the ban this September without a Bush signature or an override of a Bush veto. According to Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution,

“Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two-thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.”

President Bush offered, a couple of weeks ago, to lift the executive ban simultaneous with the lifting of the Congressional ban. Had the Democratic leadership taken him up on the offer neither side would have had a political advantage. Instead, the Democrats, under pressure from their environmentalist constituents decided to play “hard-ball” and refused to compromise. Monday Bush announced he would not wait any longer for Congress to accept his offer and instead would take the initiative by lifting the executive ban immediately, placing the next move in the hands of Congress.

In his announcement on lifting the ban, President Bush said:

“It’s been almost a month since I urged Congress to act, and they’ve done nothing, they’ve not moved any legislation. And as the Democratically-controlled Congress has sat idle, [gasoline] prices have continued to increase.”

“Failure to act is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable to me and it’s unacceptable to the American people. So today, I’ve issued a memorandum to lift the executive prohibition on oil exploration in the OCS. With this action, the executive branch’s restrictions on this exploration have been cleared away. Now the ball is squarely in Congress’s court.”

Needless to say, the Congressional leadership on the Democratic side are not happy campers. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was among the first to condemn the announcement.

“The Bush plan is a hoax. It will neither reduce [gasoline] prices nor increase energy independence. It just gives millions more acres to the same companies that are sitting on nearly 68 million acres of public lands and coastal acres,” she said.

The “68 million acres” talking point has become familiar over the last few weeks. This objection sounds plausible to many Americans because most do not know how oil leases work. The government makes leases on government controlled lands available to oil companies for exploration and possible drilling for a period of ten years. If the company does not develop the lease during that time, it reverts back to the government.

These leases are sold to the oil companies at auction with the price often running into the billions of dollars. While there is a geological probability there is oil underneath the lease, there is no guarantee by the government. In practice, only about 80% of the leases prove to be economically viable for commercial oil production. Most of the leases that Pelosi says the oil companies are “sitting on” have already been explored and found to be unviable either because the cost of extracting the oil would make it unprofitable or there is not enough recoverable oil to make it worthwhile.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that Bush’s move was “a false promise on which he can’t deliver. The fact is this: The president is deluding the public into believing that new offshore drilling is a quick fix to $4/gal gasoline. Nothing could be further from the truth. We cannot drill our way out of this problem.”

While Senator Feinstein’s assertion that “we cannot drill our way out of this problem” may prove to be true, it is certainly true that doing nothing will not solve the problem. However, even the Democrats believe that increasing the supply of oil available on the market will bring down the price of gasoline. This is indicated by the Democrat’s calling for President Bush to release oil from the strategic oil reserves.

Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus called President Bush’s action “a political stunt.”

“If the president wants to lower gas prices, he should stop hosting press conferences and start taking action,” Emanuel said. “Releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and forcing oil companies to drill on the 68 million acres they already control would be a good place to start.”

Many Democrats have echoed Emanuel and Pelosi’s call to release oil from the strategic oil reserves. None, however, has indicated what options we would have if we emptied the strategic reserves, failed to expand domestic production and OPEC decided to impose another embargo as they did in the 1970s. The Strategic Oil Reserves was established by law as a hedge against just such an interruption in our oil supply. With things as they are in the Middle East, it would be foolhardy to tap the reserves when we have an abundance of oil readily available if Congress would allow us to get it.

Another favorite excuse of the Democrats for not lifting the ban is the claim that it would take seven to ten years for the new wells to begin producing. On the same day Bush announced the rescinding of the Executive ban, BP announced it will spend $1.5B recovering oil from the Liberty oil field off the north coast of Alaska not covered by drilling bans. BP plans to be in production in early 2011, less than three years from now.

Perhaps the oil crisis is summed up best by Rep. John E. Peterson (R-Pa.),

“Make no mistake: The price at the pump and sky-high natural gas prices are the result of 27 years of failed Washington policies. The politics of fear, implored by 14 consecutive Congresses and three presidents at the behest of radical environmental groups like Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity are the reasons Americans are paying record prices for energy,” he declared.

There is more than enough blame to go around for our oil dilemma as it now stands. However, if we continue to do nothing about increasing our domestic production the fault has to fall squarely on the obstructionism of the Democratic Party and their socialist allies.

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