Monday, October 6, 2008

Barack Obama and John McCain have been talking about finding new forms of energy, bringing down its cost and finding alternatives to oil. At the recent Clinton Global Initiative summit, both addressed how they would solve an energy “crisis” that has led to pain at the pump for Middle America. Unfortunately, offshore-drilling prospects remain entangled in red tape and legal challenges.

A Gallup poll last month revealed that only 1 percent of McCain supporters and 2 percent of Obama supporters consider energy their most important issue. Yet, the cost of energy plays a significant role in the overall health of the economy. It stands to reason that if gas and electricity are more expensive, these costs will be reflected in the prices of everyday items.

Relief could be on the horizon. Congress finally let the 26-year-old ban on offshore oil drilling for both coasts expire last week. It means that the United States can now begin researching and developing new ways to explore for oil in its own backyard. Whether Congress leaves the expiration intact is still uncertain, since it could be reinstated in 2009 by a new president and a new Congress. In the meantime, the idea of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) is one great solution, as it would get America away from dependency on Middle East oil. .

Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain both oppose drilling in ANWR. Mr. McCain supports offshore drilling, while Mr. Obama does not. Both continue to talk about alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind, biofuels and clean coal. And finally, nuclear energy is being considered.

On Thursday, however, House Republican leaders called attention to a development that could jeopardize energy-production efforts at home, stating that “radical anti-energy groups may, with the tacit support of the Democratic Congressional leadership,” could file “a barrage of lawsuits to continue to deny the American people access” to offshore and oil shale sources. “We are also concerned by speculation that federal red tape and bureaucratic hurdles exist that will prevent Americans from gaining quick access to these sources,” the leaders said in an Oct. 2 letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. The letter urged Mr. Kempthorne to “identify any responsible actions that might be taken by Congress in order to ensure these resources are fully and completely unlocked in the most expeditious manner possible.” That is sound advice. America needs increased energy production, and Americans want it now.

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