Amid $135 oil, it ought to be an easy, bipartisan victory to lift the political restrictions on energy exploration and production. Record-high fuel costs are hitting consumers and business like a huge tax increase. Yet the U.S. remains one of the only countries in the world that chooses as a matter of policy to lock up its natural resources. The Chinese think we're insane and self-destructive, while the Saudis laugh all the way to the bank.
Democrats are going to have to grow up. The oil-rich areas they want to leave untouched are accessible with minimal environmental disturbance, thanks to modern technology. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita flattened terminals across the Gulf of Mexico but didn't cause a single oil spill. As for anticarbon theology, oil will be indispensable over the next half-century and probably longer, like it or not. Airplanes will never fly on woodchips, and you won't be able to charge your car with a windmill for some time, if ever.
Public anger over fuel prices could hardly come at a worse time for the GOP, since voters tend to blame a flagging economy on the party that occupies the White House. But the opportunity is to offer a reform alternative to Barack Obama and the high-price energy status quo he embraces. It looks like the public is increasingly ready for . . . change. In a May Gallup poll, 57% favored "allowing drilling in U.S. coastal and wilderness areas now off limits." Just 20% blamed the increase in gas prices on Big Oil, like Mr. Obama does.
Recent weeks have seen some GOP stirrings on Capitol Hill, but John McCain has so far refused to jettison his green posturings, such as his belief in carbon caps and his animus against offshore development. A good reason for a rethink would be $4 gas. At present, it is charitable to call Mr. McCain's energy ideas incoherent, and it may cost him the election.
Landing the Big One
Thursday, June 12, 2008
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