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August 13, 2008

Government May Shut Down Over Oil Fight

As you probably know, the federal moratorium on offshore drilling and oil-shale recovery ends -- expires naturally, with no action necessary -- Oct. 1. (Note that ANWR is covered by a separate measure.)

The Democrats wish to extend it, but they can't. It's unlikely they have a majority of votes for that, and even if they do Republican Senators will filibuster any new moratorium.

So, to avoid an actual vote on the moratorium itself, Democrats will attempt adding it to continuing-resolution bills which fund the government. Such CRs are necessary because the Democrats, of course, have failed to pass most funding bills.

So we need Bush to veto any CR that contains such a renewal of the oil-drilling ban and risk and probably invite a government shut-down to finally be rid of this stupidity.

Whether Bush will do so is doubtful. Congressional Republicans are urging him to do this, but he is managing two and a half wars.

Dick Morris stated on Fox that he's sure that, unlike the 1995 shut-down for which Gingrich and the Republicans got most of the blame and public ire, the public will blame the Democrats this time around, understanding that it's the Democrats forcing this by insisting on placing an unrelated (and wildly unpopular) measure into a simple CR.

I think he's right, but I don't know if Bush has the stones.

Bob Corker Defends His "Gang of Ten" Compromise to Instapundit: Worth reading, but the Gang of Ten compromise keeps all Pacific drilling off-the-table, and as I understand the matter, not only is that a lot of oil, but it could begin producing oil within the year. I may be wrong, but I believe many productive ocean wells were capped by the moratorium -- meaning that opening the Pacific again to drilling doesn't involve years and years of exploration and development, but simply bringing formerly productive wells back on line.

Corker may think he's gotten a lot in exchange for this enormous compromise, but I think he's given away far too much. It's bad enough that the huge reserves of ANWR remain off the table; now we're going to permanently declare most of the Pacific off-limits as well?

Also note that what Corker claims are political victories will likely result in political defeats. It's nice that his compromise gets support for coal-to-oil, but that could take years and years to mature as viable technology. And those nuke plants he says he's gotten support for will take at least ten years to come on line. At the very least.

So if the Republicans allow themselves to be rolled here, what is the likely effect? Oil prices will not come down or will come down by only a bit, thus, in the public's mind, confirming Pelosi's, Kerry's, and Obama's claim that we can't drill our way out of this and so it's futile to try.

For drilling to work -- both politically and as a working policy that the public actually supports -- we need there to be some amount of near-term impact. Corker's compromise almost guarantees we'll have no near-term impact, and thus would destroy any public support for expanded drilling altogether.

Sometimes compromise is the worst of all possible options. Corker is proposing we do just enough to make the public believe the Republicans have gotten their way on drilling, while not actually giving the Republicans their way. Net result: We "own" the compromise here, but the compromise itself does not result in much in the way of positive, measurable near-term results. So we get the triple whammy of 1) not delivering on public hopes for reduced oil prices thus 2) being proved wrong with Nancy Pelosi being proved right while 3) Republcians get all the blame for further destroying our precious environment and unbalancing our delicate ecosystems for no tangible return.

Nancy Pelosi has hedged on whether she'll permit a vote on expanded drilling. This indicates that the GOP's hand is strong (as if the polls weren't confirmation enough) and we should be pressing for a maximalist approach, not the minimalist approach Corker is championing.

Furthermore, Pelosi's claim to be "open-minded" on drilling is of course a lie. If she permitted a vote at all, it would be only a window-dressing concession to the public's demand for more drilling; the only bill she would permit would be very heavy on speculative alternate fuel developments and very light on actual new current fuel development.

In other words, Pelosi's bullshit-let's-pretend-we're-allowing-drilling would look an awful lot like Corker's compromise.

Corker is declaring defeat, and permitting the political enemy here to set the terms of peace on terms very favorable to the enemy, far too early. He may honestly believe he's not giving Obama and Pelosi a life-line, but he's wrong. He's allowing them to escape making a difficult political choice for no good reason, giving us very little in return. We're paying for the dubious privilege of bailing the Democrats out on oil.

It's bad politics, and it's bad policy.

When even the goddamned Washington Post editorial board is calling the Democrats' arguments against expanded drilling "snake oil" and debunking them in no uncertain terms, it's time to recognize that this is an issue we can win on -- both politically and in terms of advancing sound national policy -- and that we should not be offering the Democrats 80% of what they want while only getting 20% of what we want.

Offer them a compromise, sure-- but with those percentages reversed.

This isn't just about politics. It's about undoing an insane and crippling policy that constitutes a clear and present danger in both the economic and national security/military spheres.

inks via Instapundit.

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posted by Ace at 01:39 PM

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