A recent piece in The Hill shows Nanci Pelosi preparing to checkmate Republicans on energy:
“They have this thing that says drill offshore in the protected areas,” Pelosi said. “We can do that. We can have a vote on that.”
She indicated such a vote would have to be part of a larger package that included other policies, like releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which she said could bring down prices in a matter of days.
“But it has to be part of something that says we want to bring immediate relief to the public and is not just a hoax on them,” Pelosi continued.
She even indicated that she might support a package that includes drilling. She said her decision on whether to support such legislation would depend on how the policies are packaged.
How is this good news for both the Democrats and the American people? Enter the New Energy Reform Act. As I wrote previously,
[NERA is] crafted by 5 Democratic Senators and 5 Republican Senators, supported by Barack Obama and opposed by John McCain.
NERA opens up offshore drilling (but lets the states whose coasts would be affected vote on whether or not to allow it); in addition, it closes tax loopholes that are exploited by the oil companies.
NERA also dedicates $20 billion to developing alternative energy technologies as well as creating tax credits and incentives for Americans who support alternative energy (by, say, buying a hybrid vehicle).
In other words, NERA takes advantage of the corner the GOP has painted themselves into.
See, the GOP has spent weeks demanding Congress open offshore drilling immediately. They’re painting offshore drilling as the only solution for America’s energy crisis and they’re attacking Democrats for not selling America’s shores to the oil industry.
NERA legalizes offshore drilling, but the GOP won’t be able to support it. Their push for more drilling is meant to please their donors in the oil industry. There’s no way the Republicans will support a bill that opens offshore drilling at the cost of billions of dollars in tax loopholes that helps big oil net their big fat profits.
This puts the GOP in a precarious position–either oppose a bipartisan compromise that opens up offshore drilling or support NERA and kiss those fat oil industry campaign donations goodbye.
We’ll see how this plays out when Congress gets back into session and NERA is brought to the floor, but expect the GOP to sell out the American people and abandon their newest pet issue in exchange for campaign cash.