By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, July 18, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Energy: A day after House Democrats pretend to be in favor of drilling, Sen. Diane Feinstein calls offshore drilling a "distraction." Mark Sept. 30 on your calendar. It's the day Democrats have to put up or shut up.
IBD Series: Breaking The Back Of High Oil
When President Bush lifted the executive order banning exploration and drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf, two things happened almost immediately: The world price for oil started to drop and the Democrats panicked. They could no longer hide under the umbrella the order provided.
On Sept. 30, when the Interior Department's 2008 appropriations expire, the Democrats will have to reauthorize the congressional ban and explain to the voters why.
Thursday's charade on HR 6515 allegedly was about opening up the National Petroleum Reserve Area in northwest Alaska. The reality was that the Democrats added environmental restraints that virtually invited environmental groups to sue to block any further development.
The NPRA straw man was invoked to justify the "use it or lose it" part of the bill. But "use it or lose it" already is the law of the land. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., chairman of the House Resources Committee and HR 6515 floor manager, voted for it in 1992.
Under current law, energy companies already are required to utilize acquired leases within a five- to 10-year period or the interior secretary has the right to revoke the lease.
Another Democratic hoax was the claim that the bill would stop the export of Alaskan oil. The fact is, we haven't exported any oil from Prudhoe Bay since President Bush took office. GOP proposals to open ANWR guarantee all its oil will reach the lower 48 states.
Back in 1992, Rahall, who complains that the oil companies are sitting on their leases, held hearings in order "to examine the rapid oil and gas development that has taken place on our nation's public lands in recent years."
Three years later, President Clinton vetoed a bill that passed the House and Senate and which would have opened up a mere 2,000 acres of frozen tundra in ANWR that today would be delivering more than a million barrels daily.
On Rahall's Web site is his committee's agenda for 2008, a major focus of which is slowing the "rampant, nearly unfettered energy development on federal lands (which) continues despite ever-increasing evidence of the serious resource impacts caused by this activity."
In Rahall's eyes, the oil companies are damned if they do and damned if they don't.
In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on Friday, Feinstein repeated the canard that the oil companies are sitting on 68 million acres of leases that go unexplored. If the California senator knows where they are, can she please tell House Minority Leader John Boehner and the rest of us?
On his Web site, Boehner says: "Democrats have been utterly unable to say where they came up with the claim that oil companies are sitting on 68 million acres of federal lands without drilling for oil or gas on any of it and particularly how they arrived at the amount of oil they claim could be found on those 68 million acres."
Feinstein falsely claims that the "vast majority of the Outer Continental Shelf is already open to oil exploration." As we noted here Friday, 85% of the 1.76 billion acres of the OCS is prohibited from being developed by the congressional ban.
The senator says that "areas containing an estimated 82% of all the natural gas and 79% of the oil are today available to oil companies through existing federal leases." How does she know that, considering that 85% of the OCS is off-limits? How does she know this if the land is unexplored and the leases unused?
Feinstein calls offshore drilling a "distraction." Countries like Brazil call it energy independence. If Brazil had copied the Democrats' energy policy, it wouldn't have found its Carioca offshore field earlier this year. It may hold up to 33 billion barrels.
That followed the discovery in December of the Tupi field, estimated to contain 5 billion to 8 billon barrels of crude. Somehow the Brazilians aren't too worried about oil spoiling the pristine beaches of nearby Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro during the tourist season.
Here at home, Chevron announced in 2006 what's likely to be the biggest American oil find since Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. Discovered under 7,000 feet of water and more than 20,000 feet under the sea floor, the Wilcox formation may hold as much as 15 billion barrels of oil that will begin being delivered in 2014.
The geology is complicated, but the formation extends into the Gulf of Mexico and inland underneath Louisiana and Mississippi. The well that was drilled was 175 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
Shell is spending a good chunk of its "windfall" profit to build and deploy an oil-drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico as tall as the Eiffel Tower known as Perdido. It will be anchored to the seabed by moorings spanning an area the size of downtown Houston.
Set to begin production next year, Perdido will produce 100,000 barrels of badly needed crude a day.
The oil companies are sitting on nothing. It's the Democrats who are sitting on our energy future.
Let's vote on it in Congress this September and then cast a vote on Congress this November.