House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proposal to include expanded offshore drilling in a Democratic energy bill has nothing to do with reducing the cost of gas and everything to do with increasing votes for Democrats in November.
Voters should listen carefully to what candidates are saying about energy policy between now and Election Day and favor those pushing aggressive efforts to develop alternative energy resources and conservation - two keys to a brighter energy future. Continued reliance on oil is not a long-term solution.
Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential contender, and his allies in Congress would have us believe that lifting a ban on offshore drilling is vital to solving the nation's energy challenge. Nothing could be further from the truth. America uses a quarter of the oil produced in the world but holds only 3 percent of global reserves - facts not conducive to drilling our way to energy self-sufficiency.
Still, Mr. McCain has been winning the political argument with his relentless hammering on the offshore drilling issue. Many Democrats in Congress are worried that voters will consider their unconditional opposition to expanded offshore drilling to be unreasonable at a time when the nation should be doing everything possible to increase energy supplies. Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has recognized that danger and softened his opposition to offshore drilling. Mrs. Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland have now joined him.
Democrats are expected to demand that any bill opening the door to offshore drilling include repeal of oil industry tax breaks and a requirement that utilities generate more electricity from cleaner energy sources. Senator McCain and President Bush have said the tax issue would be a deal-breaker. But the real answers to our energy dilemma don't involve taking care of the president's oil industry friends.