Kathryn Lopez

The temperature's getting hot, and so is the energy-policy debate. Gas prices are reaching new heights as anyone with a car knows. What are we going to do about it? Apparently, nothing serious.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain has taken out ads on the National Review Online site pushing his silly gas-tax holiday. A gas-tax holiday may be a fun, cheap marketing gimmick, but it's not a solution.

In fact, McCain, like the Democrat he will run against, opposes a real solution: Drilling here.

Unfortunately, it's largely those on the outside looking in who are most passionately advocating that we review our domestic resources. Drilling alone won't do it, but it's a practical start.

Thus far, the debate about accessing those resources closest to home has focused on Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR). Congress ridiculously refuses to green-light the project. I say "ridiculous" because concerns about preserving the vast swaths of nature and the caribou there are not serious: Congress would be giving a go-ahead to oil exploration on 2,000 -- or 0.01 percent -- of ANWR's 19 million acres, which can supply 5 percent of America's oil per year for 12 years, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

"Drill here" has become a mantra on conservative talk radio. As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich puts it: "Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less." Gingrich is collecting signatures on a petition that reads, "We, therefore, the undersigned citizens of the United States, petition the U.S. Congress to act immediately to lower gasoline prices by authorizing the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries."

Meanwhile, we hear -- and will likely continue to hear -- sad high-gas-price stories such as that of Nevada's Clark County School District: With a 62 percent budget expenditure increase due largely to the price of gas, the school district has cut its bus route and stops to reduce costs. According to the Department of Transportation, Americans are (predictably) driving less.

It's no wonder that Gallup reports that a majority of Americans support "drilling in U.S. coastal and wilderness areas now off limits." Unlike Congress, where Democratic California Rep. Maxine Waters wants to "socialize" the oil industry, Americans don't blame oil companies for the high prices. According to Gallup, "The number of Americans who blame oil companies for the high price of gasoline has decreased from 34 percent to 20 percent."


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.