The House passed their initial version of the 2008 energy bill. Two major focal points of this bill are the following: it would allow drilling 50 to 100 miles off-shore and it would repeal tax breaks (corporate welfare) for oil corporations. Republicans have been pining for the former and screaming about the latter for months. Americans generally support increased drilling as long as its coupled with renewable energy research funding increases. A clear majority of Americans support rescinding the fossil fuel industry’s welfare. Americans can pretty easily make the connection between $4.00 gas and news of record profits that corporations like Exxon enjoy every quarter. They’re tired of that being the status quo. So I say let Republicans continue to scream about stopping the corporate welfare. They’ll continue to look like ideologues for it.
Republicans are also whining about no “litigation reform”. But here’s the reality: if the off-shore areas end up going up for lease, which would require Senate passage of the same bill (unlikely this year) and no veto by Bush (not a guarantee in the off-chance Congress actually passes something), it’s not like they’ll drill on those new areas. Why? Because here’s the dirty secret Republicans want to keep out of the spotlight: fuel corporations currently hold leases on 68 million acres of land and they’re not drilling on them right now. More than that, those corporations have no plans to begin drilling any time soon. They’re enjoying the high fuel prices too much. Increasing the supply would bring that price down. That situation was true before demand for fuel started falling in the face of $4.00 gas and is even more true now. With demand decreasing, they have absolutely no incentive to put more fuel into the market. So no environmental lawsuits will be issued because no corporation will drill.