If timing is everything in life, politics and stand-up comedy, one has to wonder whether Senate Democrats, as a gag, intentionally chose the first full week of the summer driving season to debate a bill specifically designed to increase the cost of energy – even as gas is set to cross the $4 threshold all on its own.
Not to be outdone, Democrats in the House this afternoon will attempt to sneak through a provision in a “Secure Rural Schools” bill to nullify energy contracts worked out between U.S. producers and the Clinton administration in the late-1990s. And while that effort may not even pass basic constitutional muster, at least this week House Democrats aren’t trying to displace $6 trillion from the American economy their counterparts in the Senate.
Of course, our colleagues in the House have already done quite enough. Only 16 months have elapsed since Democrats took control of Congress, and the list of so-called energy initiatives we’ve seen emerge from their caucus range from the absolutely irrelevant (NOPEC, ad nauseum “price gouging” investigations), to the absolutely bizarre – including one proposal by a senior Democrat to establish a Soviet-style “profits board” to set the amount of money certain energy firms are allowed to make each year (the government would seize the rest). Another “energy plan” approved by the Resources Committee would’ve seized huge swaths of some of the few remaining energy fields we have left unburdened by federal moratoria.
In defense of that plan, the chairman of the committee protested that the number of permits to drill has gone up considerably over the past eight years. What he didn’t mention, of course, is the amount of energy being produced from those sites continues to drop each year – nor that 92 percent of our known federal energy reserves remain subject to restrictions on U.S. production. And he certainly didn’t cite that 62 percent of our federal energy sites are completely shut off to any production whatsoever.
Along our nation’s Outer Continental Shelf, the story is the same: a full 85 percent of our deep-ocean energy is currently held under lock and key by the federal government. And I’ll let you guess what the status is of the potential two trillion barrels of oil shale currently residing in the Mountain West.
As Whip, Congressman Roy Blunt is the second highest Republican in the House of Representatives and is responsible for corralling the votes necessary to advance the Republican agenda.