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The reason for drilling-policy distortions

March 19, 2011 - Mike Maneval
Conservatives, including former vice-presidential contender Sarah Palin and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, are at it again. McConnell and Palin spent the week misrepresenting Democrats' positions on domestic oil drilling, with Politico reporting Palin's claims of an "anti-drilling mentality" on the president's part. McConnell told an Associated Press reporter in an article the Sun-Gazette ran in Saturday's edition, "Suggest that we tap some of our own domestic American sources of oil, and (Democrats will) give you 101 reasons we can't."

First, it must be noted, drilling still is allowed. As the Wall Street Journal noted during the past presidential campaign, "there are millions of acres of unexploited, leased lands in the federal inventory." Analysts believe the leased-yet-unused sites in Alaska simply are unprofitable - until gasoline climbs above 4 dollars a gallon, an investment in the infrastructure necessary to drill would ultimately lose the energy company money.

But even if one chooses to disregard the matter of the leased-yet-unused federal property, for the past three years, President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress have been open-minded about an expansion of domestic drilling. in 2008, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested developing a compromise - an expansion of drilling paired with a windfall profits tax on oil. Anotther proposal would pair an expansion with tougher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

But many conservatives have no interest in compromise, or in reducing the rate of consumption of a finite resource which will increase in price as its supplies are depleted - whether those supplies are in Alaska, outside Abu Dhabi, or off the coasts of Vietnam. So instead, the spokesmen and spokeswomen for this recalcitrant faction will spin and twist the Democrats' willingness to consider compromises as resolute opposition of drilling. They may not 101 reasons to do so, but then they only need one: Desperation to distract from their own stubborn demands to get everything they want while giving not an inch.

 
 

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