Roy Innis

The pseudo-energy bill also imposed new subsidies to promote unreliable wind and solar power – paying for them with higher taxes, higher electricity rates and new taxes on oil companies, which then would have less money to drill in the few places that aren’t off limits. It mandated that utilities magically increase their wind and solar electricity generation from 1.5% today to 15% 2020.

Drafted largely by environmentalists and lobbyists, the legislation would have undermined our free market system and given Congress and bureaucrats the power of Roman emperors to give thumbs up or down to companies, industries and jobs. It would have made lobbyists and pressure groups more important to business success or failure than quality products and services, innovative R&D or sound management.

It narrowly passed the House on a party-line vote. But Senate Democratic leaders knew they didn’t have the votes to override a threatened veto. So they let the bill die. However, Congressman Steny Hoyer says restoring the offshore oil drilling ban “will be a top priority” for Democrats in 2009.

They hope we won’t still be angry about this attempted swindle and soaring energy prices. I wouldn’t bet the rent money on that. 

Americans know better than ever before how important abundant, reliable, affordable energy is to our national security, way of life and civil rights.

We know what soaring fuel prices are doing to our airline, tourism, manufacturing and other industries, Meals on Wheels volunteers, and our ability to buy food, heat and cool our homes, take a vacation, and save for college and retirement. We know higher prices will make it impossible for many of us to give more to charity than Senator Paying-Taxes-Is-Patriotic Joe Biden’s lousy $328 a year.

We know what our businesses, schools, hospitals and lives would be like if the electricity went off every time the wind stopped blowing. What Phoenix, Dallas and Miami would be like without affordable air-conditioning. What Green Bay, New York and Toronto would be like without affordable heating.

We can “visualize a planet without cars” – as some urge us to do. It would mean taking hours or days to get anywhere, on foot, bicycle or bus, living with Calcutta-like urban congestion, maybe even going back to 1900 New York City and streets clogged with horses and horse manure, urine and carcasses.  

We’re already in the midst of the biggest financial crisis this great nation has faced in many decades. We don’t want to make it infinitely worse.

In one year, we could double offshore oil production from California, just by issuing leases and permits to drill from platforms that already exist right off the Golden State coast. As the world’s third largest oil consumer – right after the USA and China – California can and should produce more petroleum.

We could go to the Eastern Gulf of Mexico – near Florida, another big oil and gas consumer, not far from where the Cubans and Chinese are talking about drilling  just 45 miles off the Sunshine State coast. In a few years, we’d have significant production – without harming the environment. Ditto off the Virginia coast, out West, and in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Our energy woes have nothing to do with technology or the will of oil companies to lease and drill. They’re due to politics, lawsuits and anti-drilling pressure-group tactics that block drilling everywhere we turn. We’re fed up with it.

This anti-energy insanity has to stop. We’re the only country on Earth that deliberately locks up its own energy resources, and then spends $700 billion a year (the price of the Wall Street bailout) to import substitutes. We’re driving up energy prices and forcing poor families to choose between buying a gallon of milk or a gallon of gasoline.

If Congress can’t get its act together this year, we’ll make darn sure it gets religion next year.

Roy Innis

Roy Innis is national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), one of America’s oldest and most respected civil rights groups, and a life-long advocate of economic development rights for poor families and communities around the world.