Friday, September 19, 2008

Boehner Column: Another "No-Energy Energy" Bill Forced Through Congress That Still Won't Let Us Drill Here Now

“We’re not trying to give incentives to drill …” (Washington Post, 9/17/08)

That’s what U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters just before voting on the energy bill that she claimed would help solve our energy crisis. Given the overwhelming cry from the American people to drill here and to drill now, this latest sham bill was the last thing we needed.

Pelosi’s bill keeps about 88 percent of the oil and natural gas we could find in deep ocean waters off our coast under lock and key, threatening about $800 billion in tax revenues for the U.S. Just imagine the investment we could make into our economy to create Americans jobs, and to develop alternative and renewable fuels with that money. Instead, the bill was cleverly written to prohibit drilling within 50 miles of the coastline – where most of the untapped oil happens to be – and to deny coastal states any share of drilling revenues, giving them absolutely no incentive to let companies explore for untapped resources.

It was clear more than six weeks ago when congressional Democrats voted themselves a five-week break that any serious discussion about relieving pain at the pump and creating American energy independence was a priority for only some lawmakers. House Republicans took our message directly to the American people about our bill – the American Energy Act – that would unlock our natural resources in Alaska, the Intermountain West and far off our coasts, create a significant investment into the fuels of tomorrow, such as clean-coal and coal-to-liquid technology, and help create good-paying American jobs. Since Aug. 1, I’ve heard from hundreds of you here in the 8th Congressional District – including dozens who mailed me their gas receipts – who agree that we need a comprehensive approach to produce American oil and natural gas for short-term relief and commit ourselves to developing tomorrow’s fuels (biomass, hydropower, wind, solar) to create energy independence. In fact, more than 70 percent of Americans agree that such a comprehensive approach is the direction we need to take. But instead of standing up for the vast majority of Americans who want our natural resources opened up for development, Pelosi sided with the few who would sacrifice the wallets of working families for, in her words, “saving the planet.”

The Newark Advocate in Licking County had this to say about the sham bill in a recent editorial:

“Oil drilling bill is short of a full tank. … The good news is the Democrats have reconsidered their opposition to some offshore oil drilling, getting a related bill passed. The bad news is it won’t make much difference in increasing domestic oil production. … Too bad the bill has so many other stipulations on it that even if it became law it seems like it would do little good. … until a bill that is actually helpful in cutting the price of a gallon of gas gets support in Washington, the only thing that Congress will lower is the estimation it has in the eyes of the public.”

As the Washington, D.C., publication Congressional Quarterly noted, the bill was an attempt to “provide political cover” for lawmakers who needed to be seen as supporting drilling at home while actually voting differently in Washington, D.C. This is exactly the kind of cynicism and hypocrisy that the American people are tired of seeing from Congress. If we are truly serious about stimulating our economy to create jobs, lower energy prices and get our economy moving again, an “all of the above” energy strategy is the way to do that, not political half-measures designed to protect lawmakers vulnerable in their re-elections.

Those who have been hardest hit by prices at the pump are Americans who don’t have the wiggle-room in their budgets for this tremendous increase to their costs of living. House Republicans will continue to fight for an “all of the above” comprehensive energy strategy that will once and for all get us off foreign oil and lead us toward American energy independence.

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