Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Green Case for Domestic Drilling

Recently Republicans in Congress have done an excellent job of making the economic efficiency and national security arguments for increased domestic drilling. Democrats attempts to blame the speculators, "make sure the tires are filled," and calls to drill where the energy industry already has leases is falling upon deaf ears. Voters seem to know that those acres have been so thoroughly exploited that the translated cost per gallon to explore them will be higher than current prices. The industry needs access to new locations and it is pounding that drum effectively.

The current Republicans in the House are occupying empty Chambers and are demanding Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call Congress back and to tackle the energy crisis. Pelosi is invulnerable in her reelection efforts and has told other Democrats to make her the "fall guy" for failing to take action on energy. Republicans, like Congressman Kevin Brady of the Woodlands (Texas) and Ted Poe (of Houston) and others are reminding their colleagues that there already was an up and down vote on whether the Congress should immediately pursue an energy policy instead of taking a vacation. That was their vote for adjournment. If you voted for adjournment (which passed by only one vote), you voted against Congress immediately dealing with energy. If you voted against adjournment, you voted for Congressional action. That message may be getting through to voters and Republicans are beginning to look like that brash group that took over the Congress back in 1994.

The economic case for increased domestic drilling is simple. It will quickly lower gas prices by increasing future supplies. What most Democrats fail to realize is that the threat of increased production can lower prices. A thorough debate on the subject in the last few weeks has already lowered the price per barrel to around $116 at this writing, from being around $150. This is without a vote and without new exploration. This is merely due to rhetoric. Imgaine the impact once we increased drilling. Our current prices are based on futures. With the Republicans winning the recent debate, the future looks brighter for oil supplies and we are seeing it at the gas pumps.

The national security argument is just a logical. Many Democrats are arguing for tapping into the Strategic Reserve in order to help lower prices. This has only served as a reminder to voters of how dependent we are on foreign oil. In 1970, we imported 24 percent of our oil. Today it is nearly 70 percent and that number continues to grow. If foreign countries decided to stop supplying us, we would be in a true crisis. Security, as well as prosperity, are wrapped up in our energy future.

Republicans now need to make the moral case. Increased domestic drilling is the green thing to do. For years we have been told by environmentalists that this planet is little more than a "big blue marble." Simply put, environmental disasters on any part of the planet has an adverse impact on the entire planet. If that is the case, who better than the United States to increase drilling? Right now, Cuba and Venezuela are eyeing off shore drilling opportunities near the United States. Do we prefer their technology, safety standards, and labor over that of the US? Any time the United States can take the lead on drilling; people, animals, and prestine environments are better protected compared to the means of any other country.

I have suggested this to Members of Congress and others for quite some time and it seems the argument is beginning to have some traction. I visited with Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) about this last week and he has assured me that it will become an important argument Republicans will use as the GOP continues to take over the empty House Chamber. All I can say is it is about time. With the moral case joining the economic and national security arguments, the Democrats could find their hopes for the 2008 elections running out of gas.

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