September 24, 2008

10/1 is Energy Freedom Day

The Democrats are forced by political reality to back down from their anti-drilling position, handing American consumers a major victory. Phil Kerpen at NRO calls that victory "incredible, improbable"...and "stunning"

With the clock ticking down to what some are calling “Energy Freedom Day” — October 1, 2008, when the congressional bans on offshore oil drilling and onshore oil-shale development are set to expire — anti-drilling Democrats have backed down from a high-stakes stand-off that could have caused a government shutdown and will now result in the complete demise of the drilling bans. This is a stunning victory for grassroots activists over environmental special interests and business-as-usual in Washington. If not derailed, it also will be great news for all American consumers.

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The normal process of funding the U.S. government through appropriations bills broke down this year, forcing Congress to prepare a continuing resolution to keep the government funded at last year’s levels. Proponents of American oil and gas production have long suspected that the Democrats would use the resolution to hide an extension of the wildly unpopular bans on offshore drilling and oil-shale development. The theory was that by simply extending last year’s Interior Appropriations act, which included the bans, they could hide an extension without even mentioning it in the text of the bill.

To pre-empt this strategy, Jim DeMint in the Senate and Jeb Hensarling and John Shadegg in the House collected signatures from enough members of Congress to make it clear that an expected presidential veto of any such extension of the drilling ban would be sustained. Meanwhile, free-market and conservative groups presented a united front to Congress and the White House, urging lawmakers to let the ban expire. Facing organized opposition in Congress and overwhelming public opinion in favor of drilling, Democrats signaled late last week that a continuing resolution would not include an extension of the drilling bans.

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Proponents of increasing American energy production (including all the signers of the DeMint and Hensarling/Shadegg letters) deserve credit for this incredible turn of events, which seemed to be outside the realm of the politically possible just a couple of months ago.

By doing nothing, and allowing the drilling bans to expire, Congress earned a left-handed compliment from Taranto:

Finally, the congressional Democratic majority has something to show for their nearly two years in power.
Posted by dan at September 24, 2008 10:51 PM