By Sen. Mark Obenshain
26th Senate District
Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues in Congress have just put up new window dressing, so an election has to be right around the corner.
With skyrocketing gas prices, Americans have increasingly clamored for an "all of the above" response to our energy challenges. One essential component of this approach is to allow offshore drilling now to allow us to tap known oil and gas reserves and thereby increase our domestic energy supply.
Here in Virginia, we have repeatedly passed legislation to allow the development of our offshore oil and gas reserves. The Virginia plan called for a significant royalty that would be paid by oil and gas developers in exchange for their being allowed to tap our natural resources. Those royalties could have provided much needed transportation funding to Virginia. Despite wide support, Governors Warner and Kaine consistently have opposed this plan, which drew a gubernatorial veto from Warner.
Now after three years of debate in Virginia, the "drill here, drill now, pay less" theme has caught hold among the American voters, who rightfully view this as an important component of our effort to gain energy independence. One of the first "cracks" in the facade came when both Mark Warner and Barack Obama announced a "change" in their position on offshore drilling, saying they would now "consider" an offshore drilling plan. These vague promises to "consider" drilling left many wondering, "What's the catch?" Well, now we know.
Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues in Congress have cleverly crafted a "drilling plan" that will do one thing-prevent drilling. Another "facet": it will allow candidates like Mark Warner and Barack Obama say that they support a drilling plan without alienating Al Gore and his radical environmental allies.
Here's the Pelosi plan in a nutshell. Offshore drilling and development of oil and gas reserves will be permitted, but not less than 50 miles off shore. Each state must approve offshore drilling for it to be allowed in its offshore waters, but states will be denied the customary right to extract a royalty or other, similar payments.
The plan, of course, is absurd and unworkable. The 50-mile restriction is estimated to leave as much as 90% of the available oil and gas resources off limits. By prohibiting revenue sharing from new oil and gas proceeds, moreover, the Pelosi plan removes any incentive for states to approve drilling off their coast.
In addition to these illogical restrictions, the bill also provides companies engaging in oil and gas exploration with no lawsuit protection, thereby permitting environmental groups to relentlessly harass them with perpetual litigation. If that is not enough, instead of providing an incentive, it penalizes companies that actually tap domestic energy reserves by imposing new taxes on them of $13.9 billion -- just to provide tax incentives to energy projects and products more favored by the congressional energy commissars.
Of course, the bill will never pass the Senate and will never be signed into law, but that is beside the point. It was never intended to do anything. Notwithstanding its name-Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act-the bill does nothing but provide political cover to those who continue to block a reasonable response to our domestic energy challenges.
Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues are eager to push this issue off the agenda because they know it puts them at odds with the vast majority of the American people -- people who cannot understand why Congress would block proven, environmentally sustainable offshore drilling at a time when the price of a barrel of oil exceeds $100. They do not understand why Mark Warner and Barack Obama favor a scenario in which we are forced to rely more heavily on Middle Eastern and Venezuelan oil, and which plays into the hands of other major oil producers like Russia. Frankly, neither do I.
The Democrats are pushing a meaningless bill for blatantly political reasons, and hope that, failing its passage, the issue can be deferred until after the Election. They are hoping that the American people will not see through the games they are playing with our nation's energy security. They are wrong.
Empty promises are insufficient. We must embrace all viable and environmentally sensitive energy options. The "all of the above" approach is so attractive precisely because it is so intuitive. To leave energy resources off-limits unnecessarily is political malpractice; it is placing radical ideology before national interest, and the people of this country should not stand for it.
With only six weeks left until Election Day, we need volunteers to turn out the vote for our great Republican ticket. Whether you are interested in working at headquarters, delivering signs, making phone calls, or going door-to-door, your efforts could very well make the difference in what is shaping up to be a very competitive political environment here in Virginia. Please reply to this email for more information about how you can get involved.
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Cross-posted at SixtyFour81.com