Some Democrats Shifting on Drilling?

posted at 3:35 pm on February 28, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

Is Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT-4) starting to get the message on domestic energy independence? According to one recent set of comments and a strong message from some of his constituents, he just may be.

Maurico Morales feels the pain whenever he puts gasoline in his car. Seeing prices nearing $4 a gallon, Morales wants the United States to look into any measures, including domestic drilling, that will make filling up less draining on his wallet. “If we have the resources to do it here, why buy it from other countries?” said Morales, who works in New Canaan and commutes daily from Bridgeport. “We’ve got to keep trying.”

Morales appears to have an ally – although a lukewarm one — in his congressman. Speaking to reporters from Main Street Connect on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes said that he would support domestic drilling for oil, but with reservations. “I’d rather see [the U.S.] drilling for [natural] gas than for oil and for coal,” he said.

Yes, that’s luke-warm support at best, but for a Democrat from Connecticut it’s a fairly startling comment. On the one hand we have various allies of the president saying that gasoline costing $4.00 or even more would be just the tough medicine we need to push America off of its “oil addiction.” It’s a fine sentiment, of course, providing you’re not one of the tens of millions of unemployed or under-employed who have to pony up the cash at the pumps.

But it’s precisely those people who show up at the polls – no matter how blue their home state – and begin to get itchy voting fingers when they have to choose between filling up the tank or getting groceries. And representatives like Himes may be starting to listen.

He’s going to have to summon up some serious intestinal fortitude and stand up to his own president to carry through on it, though. The latest word on the permitorium is that the Obama administration is standing pat.

Interior officials won’t offer timeline for issuing offshore drilling permits

Top Interior Department officials refused to get specific Friday about when permits for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico will be issued.

“We are carefully and rigorously reviewing drilling plans. I am quite confident we will again get to the point where we approve deepwater permits,” Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich said Friday, according to Reuters.

I just know I recognize that official position about “timelines are bad” from somewhere, but darned if I can put my finger on it just now. But either way, don’t expect a break in the Gulf Coast Employment Blockade any time soon.

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Drilling for oil in the US will not have a material impact on worldwide oil prices. Growing demand in China and India are the primary driver of oil prices, compounded at the moment by supply problems in some parts of the Middle East.

Gas prices will go far, far higher over the next decade and the only answer is hybrid and electric vehicles that are fueled by a power grid that relies primary upon natural gas, which the US has in abundance.

bayam on February 28, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Not completely true. Oil prices peaked at about $140 a barrel, and gasoline prices at about $4.50 a gallon, in July 2008. When President Bush announced he was lifting the moratorium on offshore drilling, oil prices decreased rapidly over the following year.

It’s true that it takes a year or two to FIND oil after companies start drilling for it, and to bring wells into production after oil is found, but the oil market is strongly driven by “futures-traders” and speculators betting on the future balance of oil supply and demand. President Bush’s announcement obviously didn’t bring any new oil to market immediately, but it gave the IMPRESSION that new supply would come online within a few years, so that speculators in 2008 suddenly thought they would lose their shirts betting on $150/barrel oil in the future, and started selling short, and led existing producers to bring their oil to market BEFORE the new U.S. oil came online.

If President Obama were to suddenly reverse course and encourage new offshore drilling, not only in the Gulf but in ANWR and off the East Coast and California coast, it would still be a few years before the new oil came online, but oil prices would probably drop by at least $20/barrel within a few weeks, because of the PERCEPTION that the U.S. will not continue to starve itself for oil.

“Electric vehicles that are fueled by a power grid that relies primary upon natural gas” are not necessarily a panacea, because energy is lost in every conversion step–including converting natural gas to electricity and electricity into power to move a vehicle. It would be more efficient to develop vehicles that run directly on natural gas, which has already been developed for buses in some cities. This may not be practical for private cars due to safety issues during refueling under pressure, but could be adapted for large trucks, thereby freeing up some oil for other uses.

Steve Z on March 1, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Yes, I could say that he and the rest of the left aren’t smart enough to know these things, but that would be uncivil, so I won’t.

Chip on February 28, 2011 at 4:21 PM

Our latest guidance on “civil discourse” is that “You are f***ing dead” is civil…at least in Wisconsin.

Based on this guidance, you could say that the left is “brain dead”….which would actually be kind.

landlines on March 1, 2011 at 10:42 AM

Congress needs to remove the authority to issue permits from the Obama administration.

Permit issuance could be relegated to the states, or to a board which is answerable to the legislatures of the Gulf states…until such time as there is a responsible national energy policy administered by adults in place.

Windmills are not viable energy sources: they run on tax money. And the only gas we get from the Obama administration comes out of their rear ends.

landlines on March 1, 2011 at 10:56 AM