John Hawkins correctly notes that the ban on offshore drilling on the outer continental shelf expires at the end of the fiscal year. If the GOP refuses to allow an appropriations bill with the ban through the Congress, the ban will expire even as the government shuts down.
I discussed this with Senator Brownback on yesterday’s show and he noted that government shutdowns have both hurt and helped both parties in the past. The key is to prepare the ground now that so that the public understands the GOP and Senator McCain are going to insist that relief come to drivers through increased exploration and production even if it causes inconvenience to government workers and all the other side-effects of a shut down. If Democrats want to close the government down to protect their radical position on offshore, outer-continental shelf drilling, let them.
Obama opposes outer continental shelf drilling. Pelosi opposes outer continental shelf drilling. Reid opposes outer continental shelf drilling.
But majorities in both houses of Congress and John McCain support outer continental shelf drilling, as do large majorities of Americans.
After the war and judges, energy is the most important issue in the fall, and the GOP should keep a clear focus on the Democrats indifference to the pain at the pump spreading throughout the country.
The Wall Street Journal surveys the extent of Democratic radicalism on this issue in today’s paper. The party leadership’s hard left stance against exploration is deeply entrenched because the environmental activists are as strong a special interest within the Democratic Party as trial lawyers and teachers unions.
But if the plans are laid now and explanations given over and over again of why a showdown and a shutdown are coming –because we have to bring new domestic supllies of oit to market– the GOP can win this confrontation and get the drilling ban lifted.
In the meantime, the Department of the Interior should prepare to start issuing leases for the newly opened areas the moment the ban is off. Secretary Kempthorne hemmed and hawed when I asked him about this, but President Bush and his team should direct DOI to be ready to go.