Unlike some of their colleagues in the Senate, House Republicans have rejected a minimal effort to compromise offered by Nancy Pelosi on energy policy. After floating a proposal that would have allowed very limited drilling in exchange for windfall-profits taxes and depletion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Pelosi got the door slammed in her face by the GOP members participating in the House Oil Party this month. Their message — follow or get out of the way:
Republicans lambasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) energy plan Saturday advising her to “get out of the way” if she was not going to accept GOP solutions to the energy crisis.
In her Saturday radio address Pelosi announced that Democrats would consider opening up parts of the outer continental shelf for drilling as a part of a broad new energy plan that will be unveiled in the coming weeks.
The Democratic initiative will also seek to release oil from the 700 million barrel Strategic Petroleum Reserve, require oil companies to pay billions of dollars Democrats believe they owe to invest in clean energy resources, increase the use natural gas and create a federal Renewable Electricity Standard.
Jeb Hensarling scornfully asked the Speaker to “get out of the way” and allow the Republicans to implement the solutions desired by the vast majority of the electorate. Adam Putnam added that Pelosi’s weak proposal qualified her as the the most qualified poster child for Democratic intransigence on energy. They made clear that they have no reason to compromise on drilling, and see no need for distractions like an SPR release.
That notion belies the entire underpinning of the Democratic policy on domestic production. They claim that we “cannot drill our way out of this crisis,” and yet the SPR release would temporarily do what expanded domestic production would do for decades. If one cannot produce one’s way out of a supply crisis, then what effect would an SPR release have? At the same time, with a war in the Caucasus and Americans fighting in two theaters in Asia, not only would a reduction in the SPR make the military more vulnerable to supply disruptions, it would require us to replace what gets depleted. If we’re not producing our own oil to do that, we’ll only raise prices again as we stoke demand.
And now we have yet another reason to start producing our own oil. Vladimir Putin has rebuilt his empire-hungry nation’s military strength on the high price of crude oil and natural gas — prices we support with our demands on the international market. Any long-term strategy of containment regarding Moscow has to include a deep cut to the price supports for crude oil. The best way we can effect that is to vastly increase our own production (and refinement) of oil, and get out of the international market. Prices will drop dramatically, and Russia, Iran, Sudan, and other problem nations will suddenly have a lot less cash with which to make trouble.
Unlike the Gang of 10 in the Senate, the House Republicans understand this, and the need to remain firm. We need to encourage the House leadership to take ownership of this issue back from the compromisers in the Senate.