Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Drill Bits

John McCain says we should allow off-shore oil drilling.

He said that allowing states to explore for gas and oil ”and perhaps providing additional incentives for states to permit exploration off their coasts would be very helpful in the short term in resolving our energy crisis.”

His remarks come as gas prices top $4 a gallon and as House Republicans wage an increasingly aggressive push to lift both a congressional and a presidential ban that prevent exploration of the coastline.

An effort to lift the ban was defeated along partisan lines last Wednesday in a House subcommittee meeting, but its sponsor plans to try again this week.

Democrats assailed McCain’s proposal. Hari Sevugan, a spokesman for Democratic rival Barack Obama, said McCain’s ”plan to simply drill our way out of our energy crisis is the same misguided approach backed by President Bush that has failed our families for too long and only serves to benefit the big oil companies.”

Florida lawmakers have long opposed any efforts to open the coastline to drilling, and Sen. Bill Nelson said ”any approach to weaken the moratorium on coastal oil drilling is irresponsible.”

This, along with his gas-tax holiday idea, tells me that Mr. McCain is interested in finding a temporary fix to a permanent problem, and an ill-advised one at that. In the first place, even if it passes through the legislature — highly doubtful since even the Florida delegation on both sides is against it — it would be years before the first barrel is pumped, and unless we’re sitting on a huge lake of oil, it won’t make a difference in the price of fuel. So we’d be locking the barn door long after the horse has been turned into Alpo.

If Sen. McCain was truly serious about an energy policy, he’d do better than to come up with some warmed-over talking point that he picked up from the annual report of Exxon-Mobil and the Bush administration.