GOP Floats Energy Proposals

Posted June 24, 2008 at 8:48pm

In an acknowledgment that something must be done on the record-breaking gasoline prices, Senate Republicans are attempting to craft an energy package that Democrats can support.

GOP Senators met for a second time Tuesday afternoon to discuss an energy package that would attract more than the usual suspects on the Democratic side. The meeting largely focused on proposals that both GOP and some Democrats could support, including domestic drilling on the outer continental shelf.

The GOP maneuvering comes one week after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, and the president called on Congress to repeal a ban on offshore drilling. The move appeared to conflict with an earlier GOP stance to find alternative energy sources and lessen the demand for foreign oil sources.

Some of the other GOP energy proposals include creating battery-charged automobiles and deep-sea exploration for other oil sources.

Following the meeting, Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), the main proponent of the Manhattan-like Project to create clean alternative fuels, said that Republicans plan to deal with both the supply and demand side of the energy crisis. He criticized Democrats for limiting energy solutions by not considering domestic production as a part of a larger energy package.

“What Republicans plan to do is find more oil and use less oil. We want to deal with supply and demand. You cannot seek a solution without looking at both. We’re looking at everything,” Alexander said.

Democrats have been resistant to GOP calls for domestic oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in other areas, arguing that the environmental consequences far outweigh any oil benefit consumers would receive.

Republicans hope to unveil their energy plan before the Senate breaks for the July Fourth recess. One GOP aide said that there is a lot of pressure for lawmakers to do something about the high gasoline prices and that voters will question whether Members are doing enough to solve the energy problem.

However, nothing can be advanced without enough Democratic support. The Republican aide said the mix of energy solutions should be sufficient to gain bipartisan backing.

“The impetus behind this group is to restart the legislative debate on gas prices and attempt to get Democrats to work with Republicans and engage in a real solution. … [The rising energy cost] could provide sufficient motivation for a Democrat migration towards the Republican position of a balanced approach between domestic production and innovation,” the GOP aide said.