Because the majority of Americans want to “drill here, drill now,” the best thing Congress can do is nothing. That’s right, nothing. If Congress doesn’t vote this month on offshore drilling in federal waters, the prohibition against such drilling will expire on its own Oct. 1.
That’s why members of Congress who favor more oil and natural-gas exploration and drilling are right to smell a rat when presented with a plan that liberal House leaders claim promotes serious offshore drilling. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has spent months arguing there is no need whatsoever for new drilling.
Now, belatedly realizing that her position is a political loser, she is trying a rear-guard action to allow as little drilling as possible while making it look otherwise. Outside the Beltway, this kind of thing is called “double talk.”
Pelosi has been floating proposal after proposal this week to “allow” drilling with various restrictions: Off of Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas, but not off Florida. Or no closer than 100 miles from the shore. Or no closer than 100 miles unless the affected states choose to allow it as close as 50 (but still no closer than that). Or as close as 50 miles but with no provision to share some of the royalties with the affected states.
Pelosi on offshore drilling recalls that old “Get Smart” routine in which Agent Maxwell Smart first says he will be rescued by a whole division of Marines, then by at least a troop of angry Eagle Scouts. Finally, he asks: “Would you believe a pair of retired mailmen in fulluniform?”
Pro-energy representatives should just say no to Pelosi until she agrees to let drilling commence in any federal waters off the shores of any states that do not object. And the states should be offered the same revenue-sharing arrangement — 37.5 percent of royalty payments — that Louisiana belatedly secured from the federal government after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Republican House leader John Boehner is right to note that by restricting drilling only to waters more than 50 miles from shore, Pelosi would be putting off-limits some 80 percent of offshore oil and gas. The “Gang of 10” bill in the Senate is likewise flawed — more variations on the double talk being peddled by Pelosi.
Pro-energy Democrats should join Republicans in supporting the “All of the above” alternative proposal that would increase energy supplies from all sources, including drilling in all federal waters.