The ban on offshore drilling must be renewed by September 30th. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has categorically stated that she will not permit a straight up or down vote on whether or not to keep the ban in place. Instead, she has said that she will place the measure in an Omnibus Spending bill which will be needed to continue to fund the government.
For weeks, there have been no Appropriations hearings because that would allow Republicans to offer amendments on overturning the ban. Her partner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is also trying to stall any vote. So the Democratically controlled Congress ceases to do the people’s business on the orders of two people.
Why won’t they allow this vote? In a word—fear.
Fear that the ban might be lifted with full Republican support and the support of Blue Dog Democrats and many members from swing districts in the heartland that they recently wrested from the Republicans in 2006. Their constituents don’t own beachfront property in California or Florida. Heck, with gas prices being what they are, they can’t even afford to drive to the beach.
Fear of what the reaction of radical environmentalists and Hollywood stars would be in financially supporting Democrats’ campaigns. I am sure the Hollywood types would be reaching for the Valium if the ban was lifted since their ocean views would be “spoiled”. That is those that are not already on Valium.
And finally, fear of having to force Barack Obama to side with Coastal environmental elitists in New York, Washington and California over the working people of the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Obama is already having trouble with the so-called Reagan Democrats, and a vote to keep the ban will not help him in convincing them he is on their side.
Let me repeat what I have said before on this blog. There is no silver bullet to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. They will be here for quite a while as we transition to alternative forms of energy. The price of oil has been kind of a perverse blessing in that it has forced us to finally come to grips with our energy future. Simply put, we need a combination of conservation, exploration and innovation.
All over the country, new technologies are being born and others perfected. Venture capital is being invested on new energy ideas. Once again, individuals and businesses are using good old American “know how,” rolling up their sleeves and getting to work so that one day we can tell the oil producing cartel, “No thanks, we don’t need your oil anymore so you can fund our enemies”.
But that day is not yet here.
There are those who say that we don’t need more drilling but we should invest, that is the government should invest, in new technologies.
They claim that any new oil will not be here for years so why drill.
What they won’t admit is that the new technologies and the infrastructure to support them is years away as well. It is not as if we will develop a new fuel and then everyone will go to Grand Auto and get a new carburetor for their car or truck.
Changing fuels is one thing, but developing the infrastructure is a Herculean undertaking and will take many years to put into place and cost in the trillions of dollars according to some. And who is going to pay for all this?
So Speaker Pelosi, let’s have an up or down vote on drilling as we pursue viable alternatives and conserve what we have. But let’s not keep feeding the people a lot of political “cotton candy” about the future. This will be a long hard road and they deserve to hear the truth.
This is bigger than preserving the Democrat’s Congressional majority or allowing Obama to escape a difficult decision. If he wants to be President, he will need to make many hard choices that won’t always please everyone. So far in his career, he has never made any hard choices.
Time to cowboy up Democrats. If you believe your side will prevail in the offshore drilling ban debate, put your money where your mouth is and allow a vote.
To the Republicans in Congress I say, if she won’t allow an up or down vote on the ban, refuse to vote on the Omnibus spending bill charade. They have the votes to pass the bill so let them take responsibility. Polls show the people are on your side on this one.
And then go make your case to the voters. Maybe you can begin to win back the trust you lost in 2006.
I think you will find a receptive audience.