Friday, June 30, 2006

And finally...some common sense!

In a hopefully more than fleeting return to sanity, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to lift the ban on offshore drilling yesterday!

The House bill would end an Outer Continental Shelf drilling moratorium that Congress has renewed every year since 1981. It covers 85 percent of the country's coastal waters _ everywhere except the central and western Gulf of Mexico and some areas off Alaska.

Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., a leading proponent for lifting the ban, said he believes a majority of the Senate wants to open the protected waters to energy companies.

Asked about White House opposition to some parts of the bill, especially a provision that would give tens of billions of dollars to states that have drilling rigs off their coasts, Pombo said, "I dare them to veto this bill."

"They don't like us giving money back to the states. I think it's right," Pombo told reporters after the vote. Forty Democrats joined most Republicans in favor of ending the drilling moratorium.

But all is not yet well in Mudville...

In the Senate, the measure is likely to face a filibuster from Florida senators and possibly others from coastal states that fear offshore energy development could threaten multibillion-dollar tourist and recreation businesses if there were a spill.

The Senate is considering a limited measure that would open an area in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, known as Lease Area 181, that comes within 100 miles of Florida. It is not under the moratorium. Even that is unlikely to pass unless its sponsors get 60 votes to overcome a filibuster from the Floridians.

The time is nigh when our nation's very economic and physical security depends on access to oil and natural gas. With state of the art, minimally invasive methods and equipment now available, and in light of who currently holds the cards in OPEC, there is NO EXCUSE not to exploit our domestic sources of oil and gas. In the midst of $3.00+ per gallon gas prices, and in an election year, I'd hate to be the senator or congressman who goes home to explain why there hasn't been anything done to lessen the pain that people--and the economy in general--feel at the pumps.

(Filed under energy madness)