Posted: 08/07/08 13:36, Edited: 08/07/08 13:39
by Dave Mindeman
In the Star Tribune, Norm Coleman gives us yet another of his "I am bipartisan" sermons...this time regarding the energy topic. Norm always does a great job choosing his words carefully.... never quite wrong...just enough truth to pass the media test.
Let's take a look.
He starts out with his usual "definition of the problem":
Nothing is more urgent or of greater significance to the American people than solving our energy crisis -- it is an issue that hits to the core of family budgets, our economy and our national security. From my travels across this state, it is clear that Minnesotans are united in the belief that any solution to our nation's energy crisis that doesn't produce a single drop more of oil is half-hearted.
This country's energy problem is in crises. And it does affect every part of our life. But Coleman is reading only half of that united Minnesota belief. They may see a need to increase our oil supply because they assume that they will see immediate gas price relief. Republicans encourage that belief, even though they know it is a false hope. But Minnesotans are also more than willing to move into alternative energy sources --why? Because this state can lead in those sources. Norm should be concentrating on that -- not on oil.
Then Norm goes into some throwaway lines.
I believe the most effective way to lower prices is to increase supply while lowering demand -- it's basic economics.
He thought long and hard on that one, I bet.
But here is where Norm gets a little "oily"....
From Norm's article:
Just consider that 85 percent of offshore acreage is currently not available for development. If we developed the entire Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), we could see an additional 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas -- a significant amount that would make a real dent in our dependence on Mideast oil.
Now here is a quote from a Boston Globe article... please notice my highlighted portion:
About 86 billion barrels of additional oil may lie offshore, according to the US government's Energy Information Administration. Of that amount, about 18 billion barrels are subject to the moratorium. Much of the rest lies in areas that are too expensive to exploit or that oil companies have not yet tapped for technical reasons, fueling the industry's desire for fresh territory.
Norm leaves out key points. A lot of acreage that IS available for development has most of the oil. The oil companies just are not exploring and developing where they can -- it is an expensive proposition. He is technically "truthful" to say that if we developed all of the OCS there is a potential for 86 billion barrels of oil -- he just leaves out the part that only 18 billion of that amount is in the moratorium areas.
Pretty big distinction.
However, instead of heeding the cries of our constituents and passing a balanced, comprehensive energy bill with real solutions for this energy crisis, the Senate majority leader brought a take-it-or-leave-it speculation bill to the floor that was more show than substance.
It wasn't a take it or leave it bill. It was a stand alone bill. If that bill had passed it would have corrected a market problem. Speculators were unfairly cornering oil markets and artificially creating shortages. A problem that can develop with other commodity futures also. It was the Republicans that wanted to tack other things onto the bill and force support to leave.
Norm scolds Congress:
To suggest that we can just pass a bill aimed at only one aspect of speculation and then be done with addressing the energy situation is na?ve, misleading, and insulting to the basic can-do spirit of Americans.
Again, correct in general. The speculation bill would only correct one part of the problem. But let's correct what we can. Norm complains about "take it or leave it" mindsets -- yet that is exactly what the Republican Senators wanted to do with amendments to the speculation legislation.
Then Norm talks about his own amendment:
As a means to passing a comprehensive energy bill, my amendment to open access to the OCS while ramping up research on battery technology for plug-in-hybrid vehicles was offered as a compromise. Not only did Democratic leaders block a vote on my amendment, but they went so far as to object to drilling even if gas were to reach $10 a gallon. How high do prices have to get before producing more becomes a viable option?
I haven't found details about this amendment -- but I always wonder why battery technology for plug-in hybrids needs to be tied to OCS drilling. Is it only a "we have to do both" deal? And I also wonder where the $10 per gallon phrasing comes from -- was that actually in his amendment?
What really makes me suspicious of Norm's language here is that 23 other Senators signed on to Norm's amendment (according to his website)....all of them conservative Republicans. No Democrats, no moderate Republicans (Snowe, Collins, and Smith) -- all absent.
Doesn't look like bi-partisan consensus to "get things done" to me.
In concluding his piece, Norm goes into his usual broad language:
Over the last few months, we moved quickly to deal with the effects of the downturn in the economy and housing crisis.
Not that it solved anything.
And most Republicans, likewise, understand that compromises are going to need to be made, for example, by keeping the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off the table and making sure we invest in conservation.
I call on my colleagues, both Republican and Democratic, to develop a sensible, comprehensive solution to this energy crisis. Minnesotans are confused and frustrated about the stalemate in Washington. They deserve action, and I will continue to work with members from both sides of the aisle to achieve this end.
Coleman can talk about bi-partisan compromises, but there is little evidence that his party is proposing such or wants any part of it. Our energy policy needs multi-tasking. Some members of the Senate (the Gang of Ten) have offered a bi-partisan starting point. It is not perfect by any means, but it is a start. They include Democrats Conrad -ND, Ben Nelson -NE, Prior -AR, Lincoln -AR, and Landrieu -LA and Republicans Chambliss -GA, Thune -SD, Graham -SC, Isakson -GA, and Corker -TN.
Norm Coleman is conspicuously absent. I guess he must be bringing different people together.