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Democrats playing (bad) politics with oil

vincent.jpgJuly 15, 2008
By Vincent Gioia

Despite gasoline priced at well over $4.00 a gallon over most of the country, and the public calling for "drill now", Democrats continue to display a degree of obstinacy unparalleled in modern politics. This may be very bad for the country but it is good for their political opponents.

President Bush has finally cancelled the Executive ban on oil drilling while calling for congress to rescind the congressional ban. Until he took this action any criticism of congress' failure to act sounded a bit hollow. Now however it is only congress that stands in the way of efforts to extract oil from the continental shelf just as Cubans and Chinese are doing. If we add to world oil supplies, the price will go down as supply is potentially able to meet or exceed demand. In fact, some experts think merely authorizing drilling and by so doing indicating a commitment to increase oil supplies in the near future, the price of oil will go down and with it the price of gasoline at the pump.

So what is the problem and who is holding up this sensible action, why Democrat leaders in the House and Senate, that's who?

Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this week that he would not allow a vote on an amendment giving states new authority to seek oil off their coasts when he brings a Democratic energy bill to the floor later this month. Reid criticized President Bush's announcement earlier in the day to rescind a longstanding executive order banning offshore oil drilling, saying it was a gift to the oil companies that are not exploring for oil in 68 millions of acres available to them.

There are many millions of acres available to oil companies to drill for oil but any sensible person would consider why there has been no drilling there before making it a condition precedent to rescinding the ban on ocean drilling. Would oil companies deliberately refrain from getting oil where they could? Isn't it logical to assume that oil companies have not taken action on these tracts because it was not cost effective to do so? There are reports that these areas either do not contain oil or the cost of extraction is too great to be commercially viable. Only those with some nefarious agenda would try to convince the public that oil companies are intentionally foreclosing themselves from an opportunity to obtain more oil, especially at today's prices.

Despite calls from Republicans in the Senate, and President Bush, to rescind a congressional moratorium prohibiting the practices and give states the option to decide whether to allow drilling off their coasts, Senate Democrats refused.

"We want oil and gas companies to drill on the leases they've been given," Reid said. He also wants oil companies to report to Congress their activities on their leased tracts.

It was not long ago that Senator Reid and other senate Democrats had oil company executives before committee hearings to explain why oil prices are so high and expected them to say it was their fault. The news media as might be expected jumped on the band wagon blaming oil companies for the situation - and why not, they all received the memo from the Democrat Party with marching orders about this. However, as the facts came out, largely due to the internet and conservative talk show hosts, the argument of oil company responsibility became increasingly implausible.

This of course this then required Democrats to find another scapegoat to blame so that attention would be distracted from for their part in causing high oil prices; enter the "speculators."

Democrats blame market speculators on oil industry futures for propping up oil prices, and are drafting a bill to target the practice. When the Senate votes on that bill, Reid said he would not allow amendments dealing with oil drilling which the Republicans will almost certainly attempt.

Democrat presidential candidate, Barack Obama, is setting the pace for Democrat inaction on oil drilling because he too opposes lifting the offshore-drilling ban. Incredibly, Obama said through a spokesman that "It would merely prolong the failed energy policies we have seen from Washington for 30 years"; conveniently ignoring the fact that the practices of the past years failed because of Democrat obstructionism. To his credit, Senator John McCain reversed his support for the ban and has said that boosting supplies will help bring down soaring oil and gas prices.

The only sensible comments about the issue in the senate were by Republicans. "Senator Lamar Alexander said "The key to bringing down record-high gas prices is to find more American energy, as well as use less. After today's announcement by the president, the only hurdle left to beginning offshore exploration is congressional action, and it's time for the Democratic leadership to listen to the millions of Americans who are demanding we begin today."

New Mexico Republican Senator Pete Domenici called Reid a "chicken" for not allowing votes on oil drilling. "Does it seem to you like it does to me like Harry Reid is either scared chicken to have a vote, or has he decided that he's going to dictate to the United States Senate?" That's really a silly question senator, isn't that what Democrats do in congress when they have majorities?

Domenici added "Does it seem to you like it does to me like Harry Reid is either scared chicken to have a vote, or has decided that he's going to dictate to the United States Senate?"

Lamar Alexander said it all: "Any serious proposal to deal with $4 gasoline prices has to include finding more American energy ... and Senator Reid is not willing to do that."

Of course Democrat idiocy is not confined to the senate. Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement on President Bush's announcement lifting the executive ban on drilling in protected coastal areas:

"Once again, the oilman in the White House is echoing the demands of Big Oil. The Bush plan is a hoax. It will neither reduce gas 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 areas. If the President wants to bring down prices in the next two weeks, not the next two decades, he should free our oil by releasing a small portion of the more than 700 million barrels of oil we have put in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. It's time to tell the oil industry: 'You already have millions of acres to drill. Use it or lose it.'"

What will it take for Americans to understand that Democrats are really responsible for the high gas prices; not the oil companies, not the speculators, not the Bush administration and not most Republicans (only those Rhinos who share the wacky environmental ideology that puts people last in the food chain)?

Pelosi, like all Democrats in leadership positions believes that if you make a shrill attacking statement, no matter how ridiculous, the American people will buy it and salute their party. We can only hope Americans deep down are too intelligent to accept that; if not, we are in for a long ride to "never, never land."

Vincent Gioia is a retired patent attorney living in Palm Desert, California. His articles may be read at http://www.vincentgioia.com/ and he may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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