Everybody except the Democrats in Congress seems to understand that while we are trying to develop a sensible and effective energy policy we have to avail ourselves of domestic supplies of oil and natural gas and get ourselves out from under the dependence upon foreign supplies under the control of OPEC. Congressional Democrats have steadfastly refused to do the smart thing, the sensible thing, the least expensive thing, which is to open the offshore areas to drilling now and get the process underway of developing the substantial oil and natural gas resources that belong to the U.S., as opposed to depending upon Arab nations, Mexico and Venezuela for so much of our oil.
In contrast to the leaderships’ previous position is this from Maryland 5th district Congressman Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader, who told the Washington Times that his party will not push to reinstate a ban on offshore oil and natural gas drilling next year.
Mr. Hoyer said there will be serious discussion as to the "parameters" to which offshore drilling will be allowed, but Democrats will not try to back track after grudgingly giving in to Republican demands to allow the 26-year-ban to expire this fall.
"I don't think there is any intent at this point in time ... to return to the same position we where in" before the ban was lifted, Mr. Hoyer said at the National Press Club in Washington last week. That’s a different position than enunciated when the ban was lifted in September, when Congressional Democrats said they would work with the new administration to reinstate the ban after the new Congress convenes in January.
The American Petroleum Institute supports Congressman Hoyer’s position, saying, “The American public has made clear its strong support for increased access to untapped domestic oil and natural gas resources. At least two-thirds of Americans in recent exit polling said they supported offshore drilling. Neither Congress nor the next administration should set unreasonable, arbitrary limits on leasing because such restrictions could remove some of the nation’s most promising oil and natural gas prospects for development, and the industry has proven it can develop these resources in an environmentally safe manner.”
This new position is certainly a step in the right direction, but many details are left unaddressed, such as whether the Democrats will at last let go of the demand to drill first in the existing leased areas, areas where there is almost no data indicating that oil or gas exists in those areas, and also how near to coastal areas drilling will be allowed.
Then, there’s President-Elect Obama’s comment on cap-and-trade, which in these troubled economic times is even more harmful than otherwise.
Only time will tell whether the Obama administration and the Democrat Congress will embrace a truly enlightened approach to the energy problem.