Fight for Energy Reform Begins With ‘All of the Above’

Posted September 10, 2008 at 6:30pm

While at an event in Danbury, Conn., for one of our top Republican challengers, a young man in the audience asked me, “What are the chances Speaker Pelosi will hold an up-or-down vote on your ‘All of the Above’ energy plan?”

I answered honestly: “Slim … but we’re going to keep up the fight.” And we have. Throughout August, 136 House Republicans held a historic five-week protest over Democrats’ unwillingness to hold a vote on the American Energy Act. We’re just getting started.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) both advocate an “All of the Above” approach to energy reform. And while the majority may only keep us in session for a handful of days for a handful of “small ball” bills, House Republicans will continue our effort to force a vote on real energy reforms throughout September.

Democratic leaders, meanwhile, are more opposed to an “All of the Above” energy reform strategy today than at any recent time. With an anti-energy ticket leading the Democrat Party, their calculus is simple: They think they can run out the clock.

But running out the clock may not be an option any longer.

In every city I visited in August, at every stop, voters were talking about one main thing: soaring energy costs. Poll after poll confirms that this is a key issue heading into the fall. Families and small businesses are struggling with high gasoline prices and record home heating costs, and they’re outraged that Congress is wasting time with flawed bills that will do little to help.

Voters in my own district are amazed that Democrats don’t get it — witness Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) latest “No Energy” bill or Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) call for additional taxes on clean coal and natural gas, a surefire way to raise the price of Ohio’s primary fuel sources.

High energy prices affect everything else, from the state of the economy to our safety and security.

While Republicans were in Washington demanding a vote on the American Energy Act, where were Congressional Democrats? Talking the talk back in their districts.

When Russia was invading Georgia, threatening a major oil pipeline, where were Democratic leaders? Promoting their books.

When the economy was shedding 84,000 jobs in August, where was the Democrats’ “commonsense plan” to lower energy prices? Still haven’t seen it.

In contrast, each of the 18 candidates in the Northeast and Midwest I visited in recent weeks supports immediate action on an “All of the Above” energy reform plan. Our plan is truly the boldest, most aggressive energy reform legislation in a generation.

Republicans recognize that there is no one “silver bullet” for our energy crisis. That’s why our plan does everything: It increases conservation and efficiency, expands new American energy production, and invests in the development of the alternative and renewable fuels of the future.

That hasn’t stopped Democrats beholden to the radical left from going on the attack, desperately hiding their failure to address the energy crisis. When confronted by pro-energy demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention, Pelosi derided them as “drill-only folks” and asked, “Can we drill your brains?”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and a phalanx of rank-and-file Democrats followed suit, disingenuously calling the American Energy Act a drill-only proposal. If only they took a moment to read the legislation.

In fact, our bill unlocks vast amounts of American energy in the Alaskan coastal plain, Mountain West and in the deep ocean energy zones far off our coasts. At the same time, it directs royalties generated from the production of new energy in these areas to a Renewable Energy Trust Fund — we’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars — to be invested in developing the fuels of tomorrow.

Best of all, we can make this massive investment without raising taxes. By blocking a vote on the American Energy Act, Democrats are actually hurting America’s ability to develop new energy technologies.

Adding further to the majority’s dishonesty are the series of “discharge petitions” supported by Republicans — and rejected by Democrats — seeking a vote on legislative reforms that would help ease fuel costs. Each reflects a portion of our “all of the above” strategy.

For example, Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.) filed a discharge petition on H.R. 2493, a bill by Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) reforming federal “boutique fuel” mandates that needlessly drive up the price of gasoline.

Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-N.Y.) filed a discharge petition on H.R. 5656, legislation authored by Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Mike Conaway (R-Texas) to promote federal use of American-made alternative fuels derived from domestic oil shale and tar sands. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) filed a discharge petition focusing on bipartisan environmentally safe coal-to-liquids energy reforms.

To expedite construction of new refineries on closed military installations, Rep. Phil English (R-Pa.) filed a discharge petition on H.R. 2279.

Do we want to explore for and produce new energy too? Of course. Reps. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), and Jon Porter (R-Nev.) have all filed discharge petitions to force votes on lifting the Congressional ban on drilling in deep ocean energy zones, opening the Alaskan coastal plain to responsible drilling, boosting alternative energy development by extending the wind production tax credit and encouraging the construction of new nuclear power plants.

Moreover, each of these Republicans spent time in August demanding Democrats return to Washington from their monthlong break to give Americans the vote they deserve.

“And at the end of the day,” I told the crowd in Connecticut, “the American people are the ones who will win this fight.” Americans are paying attention. They don’t want a little bit of this and a little bit of that; they aren’t interested in doing “some of the above.” Americans want to do “all of the above” to help lower energy prices and liberate America from its dangerous dependence on foreign oil. And they want it now. Led by Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin, Republicans in Washington and around the country are ready to deliver.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) is the House Minority Leader.