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For GOP, a Quiet Win on Energy

Congressional Democrats bowed to political reality Tuesday and agreed not to include an extention of the offshore oil drilling ban in the upcoming continuing resolution to fund the government, meaning that the ban will be lifted as of Oct. 1 and there won't be a big showdown -- or a government shutdown -- over this issue.

The decision by the majority marks a big victory for the GOP, which has made increased domestic oil drilling its centerpiece issue for months, highlighted by the minority's well-publicized use of the House floor throughout the August recess to call for a vote on oil drilling.

But this isn't as big a victory for Republicans as it might have been, say, three weeks ago. Why? Partly because it may only be temporary; Democrats are hoping that a President Obama would help them reinstitute the ban next year. But it's also because the economic crisis has pushed the energy/gas prices issue off the stage. Check out the new Washington Post-ABC News poll: Asked which issues were most important to them in the presidential race, energy came in 6th with just 3 percent, while the economy led the way with a whopping 50 percent. Other surveys have tracked similarly, with many showing energy moving down the list of priorities as the economy overall moves up.

Now, that doesn't mean high gas prices won't matter in November. Many voters may well link gas prices to their overall views on the economy, and public support for more drilling remains high. But it does appear that Hill Republicans' strategy since July of putting nearly all their eggs in the oil drilling basket may not give them the boost they once had hoped. The still-developing economic bailout package may well turn out to be much more decisive, for both parties.

One housekeeping note: You may have noticed that Capitol Briefing has not been updated as often this week. That's because your humble blogger has been working hard on a new project -- Political Browser -- which launched this week and includes a new blog, The Takeaway. Check it out, bookmark it, make it part of your morning routine (it's updated at 8 a.m. every weekday, and then throughout the day after that). And, of course, keep coming back to Capitol Briefing for your latest dose of congressional news.

By Ben Pershing  |  September 24, 2008; 10:10 AM ET
Categories:  Agenda , House  
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...Plus, the states are likely to continue to ban offshore drilling in their coastal waters. Add that to the fact that there's simply no equipment available to actually do any drilling within the next decade EVEN IF these areas were not at the very bottom of the list of 80,000,000 acres of unexploited US oil fields already in the hands of the oil companies and... Well, you get the picture.

This, like so much Bush "policy," is a non-starter.

Posted by: mobedda | September 24, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) released the following report regarding Oil and Gas Royalties. Bottom line is Big Oil companies have been cheating the American Taxpayer in addition to corrupting government employees charged with providing oversight and collecting Royalties.

The Inflexibility of Royalty Rates to Changing Oil and Gas Prices Has Cost the Federal Government Billions of Dollars in Foregone Revenues. The GAO confirms; The Federal System for Collecting Oil and Gas Revenues Needs Comprehensive Reassessment.

It is in the interest of all Citizens to Stop Oil Company corruption of public officials. When ROYALTIES are STOLEN, it’s from all us of including Troops serving and Dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Oil Royalties should be paid in relation to value, Tax breaks for Big Oil eliminated, and the Production/Investment Tax credits (PTC/ITC) for Renewables are greatly expanded.

Posted by: Derek | September 24, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

The notion that it would take longer to produce drilling equipment than to have put a man on the moon in the 60's is nuts.
In all likelihood, the impact of approving real drilling (not the phony drilling measure put forward by the Democrats) would be a short time in coming. The reason for the downward trend in oil prices and then its sudden spike, by the way, tracks with the prospect of drilling limitations expiring and then the phony drilling bill actually eliminating the best fields being passed. Because oil futures (and the impact on present prices) are about expectations, if the limitations are allowed to expire, we will likely see a resumption of the downward trend in oil prices once again -- and pronto.

Posted by: mwmeier | September 24, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

So Big Oil retains its monopoly on our pocketbooks yet again, but the electric car IS coming, and it can be powered by any energy source, including wind and solar.

Better think "Big Energy" and diversify, you oil people.

Posted by: NMAIF | September 24, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Well, then "mwmeier," please start expecting really hard so we can have some cheap gas!

Much as the White House & pals have tried to make it so, calling reasonable conclusions based on logical thinking about genuine evidence "nuts" and "phony" doesn't make those conclusions incorrect any more than it makes destructive sources of energy less expensive or more available [didn't you guys used to AGREE with T. Boone Pickens as long as he was telling you what you wanted to hear...?].

Posted by: mobedda | September 24, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

A win?


People are watching.

I do wish they'd get their heads out of their a**ses, they really DO have limited perspective.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

The democrats acted very cowardly by not bringing the offshore drilling to a vote so each congressman and senator could go on record. Now they can claim "I didn't vote to lift the ban" when courting the exstream environmentalist. Yet it will not increase fuel supplies. They should have passed a measure that would have allowed drilling and preventing frivolous lawsuit. It would have held the oil companies liable for any environmental damage. In addition states that don't allow drilling would have to an environmental tax on the energy that they get form the states that do allow and produce energy. The tax should apply not only to petroleum but to all forms of energy. This would have been done if they wanted to make the US more energy selfsufficent.

Posted by: Curly | September 24, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

This was supposed to be a swap for extending the renewable energy credits - that GOP didn't want, since they can't (yet) meter the sun shining on our rooftops.

Wonder what all Cheney and Bush families liquidated before this vote?

Posted by: Mom | September 29, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

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