What We All Want

By August 13, 2008Energy

The Senate “Gang of 10” and specifically the GOP members came in for a thrashing last week from the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel, a column, “Republican Energy Fumble.” In their desire for bipartisanship and ethanol subidies, they surrendered an important and politically advantageous issue, she wrote:

That’s because the plan is a Democratic giveaway. New production on offshore federal lands is left to state legislatures, and then in only four coastal states. The regulatory hurdles are huge. And the bill bars drilling within 50 miles of the coast — putting off limits some of the most productive areas. Alaska’s oil-rich Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is still a no-go.

The highlight is instead $84 billion in tax credits, subsidies and federal handouts for alternative fuels and renewables. The Gang of 10 intends to pay for all this in part by raising taxes on . . . oil companies! The Sierra Club couldn’t have penned it better.

The 10 eschew the term “raising taxes,” preferring to provide offsets through “loophole closures and other revenue measures.” (Last paragraph on summary sheet.)

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), one of the Decadudes, takes strong issue with the analysis. He called Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit today to rebut Strassel and other critics (Investor’s Business Daily headlined an editorial “The Five Stooges” and Rush Limbaugh was rough, too.) Here’s the Senator’s case.

1. The “gang of 10” bill unilaterally opens up drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, with no state veto. The GOP bill didn’t do that, because Mel Martinez and Charlie Crist didn’t want it. Non-Gulf states Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas can opt-in if they like; the old GOP bill was opt-in everywhere, allowing Florida to block drilling in the Gulf off of its shores.

2. The bill also allows for seismic exploration along the entire continental shelf.

3. The ban on drilling within 50 miles of the coast was also in the GOP bill.

4. Contrary to many commentators’ claims, the “gang of ten” bill is not a lifeline for Obama: “What a bunch of C-R-A-P. ” (Yes, he spelled it out like that) “If Obama embraced this, he would be the biggest flipflopper ever.” A lot of the opposition to the bill is really a case of trying to keep drilling as an election issue instead of getting more drilling.

5. The bill includes a Zubrin-like flex-fuel provision, requiring that 75% of cars by 2015 and 85% by 2020 be capable of running on something besides gasoline.

6. “Our bill also opens up coal-to-liquids. We couldn’t have gotten 44 Republicans for that.”

7. The bill is “incredibly aggressive” on nuclear power, including accelerated-depreciation provisions like those for solar and wind power, more NRC resources to speed licensing, and an end to the Carter-era ban on nuclear fuel reprocessing. “We couldn’t have gotten 44 Republicans on this.”

8. The bill also promotes cellulosic ethanol.

We detect the manifestation of the institutional tension between Senate and House.

Anyway, if bipartisanship is a good in and of itself, then we direct you to the Abercrombie-Peterson bill introduced July 31, the National Conservation, Environment, and Energy Security Act. Sponsored by Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) and John Peterson (R-PA), H.R. 6709 now has 119 cosponsors. A multitude, not a gang.

As NAM President John Engler said in a release, “This critical bill removes restrictions on energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), promotes alternative and synthetic fuels ranging from biomass to oil shale and promotes energy efficient technology.”

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