Environmental groups are scrambling to shore up opposition in the Democrat-led Congress to more offshore oil drilling, countering the push for added domestic production by President Bush and voters pinched by rising gasoline prices.
“There are plenty of us on the other side creating pressure, too,” said Friends of the Earth, which is unleashing a campaign targeting select congressional districts to fend off calls for Congress to let the offshore drilling ban expire Sept. 30.
The 40-year-old advocacy group is increasing its lobbying on Capitol Hill and rallying activists nationwide with e-mail alerts, newsletters and phone calls warning against what they see as a “land grab by the oil industry” that will not lower gas prices, he said.
Meg Boyle, a climate policy specialist for the group.
The environmentalist movement forms a crucial piece of the Democrats’ base, and the two remain close allies, but the gas-price crisis tests the relationship.
Likely Democratic targets of environmentalists are Pennsylvania, who supports offshore drilling.
Democrats wavering on offshore drilling include Montana.
The debate intensified Monday when Mr. Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore oil drilling and called on Congress to lift its drilling prohibition, saying American families are “rightly angered by Congress’ failure to enact common-sense solutions.”
“The only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is action from the U.S. Congress,” Mr. Bush said. “The time for action is now.”
Republicans roundly applauded the announcement while Democrats called it a political stunt and accused the president of being allied with the oil industry.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, is careful to avoid tough votes that would pit the party’s members against environmentalists. She employs strict procedures that prevent floor amendments that Republicans otherwise could use to force a vote on offshore oil drilling.
The House is expected to take up the Democrats’ so-called “use-it-or-lose-it” bill Thursday. The measure would force oil companies to surrender oil and gas leases on federal land where they are not drilling.
Democrats have accused the oil industry of “warehousing” the 88 million acres of land on which they hold leases so as to keep the domestic oil supply lower and prices higher.
Congress has blocked offshore drilling for 27 years, reauthorizing the ban annually. Drilling also is prevented by an executive order signed by President Clinton and the current president, until Monday.
Long-standing support in Congress for the ban, which prohibits oil rigs from operating on the East and West costs and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, has wavered lately with gasoline topping $4 per gallon and voters clamoring for relief.View Entire Story
Steven A Miller
By John Solomon
How the government's punishing of the exposure of official wrongdoing can linger for years
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
A collection of reader guest articles, thoughts and opinions by Communities writers and breaking news and information.
Great discoveries in the world of restaurants and chefs fulfill the quest for delicious food and cooking.
Paul Rondeau dissects the propaganda, media tricks, and other shenanigans targeting our families, faith, and freedom…and even life itself
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention