House GOP Continues Gas Price Protest, Claims Public Support

By Josiah Ryan | August 19, 2008 | 6:50 PM EDT

On the Spot ( – Republicans protesting on the House floor for the last two weeks demanding Congress take action on high gas prices told they will be able to channel public opinion for expanded offshore oil drilling to compel House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to allow a vote on the issue.  
A poll released by the Rocky Mountain News and a CBS4 News last Friday shows that presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has a 16-point lead among voters in the swing state of Colorado who think energy is the most important issue of the election.
“Democrats are on the run, and they are running the wrong way right now,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) told at a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday. “Speaker Pelosi, give us the opportunity to have a vote on our bill.”
“We are very confident that the pressure the American people have put on this leadership is going to help us and the next generation of Americans,” said Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.).
According to the poll of Colorado voters, McCain leads presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama 44 percent to 41 percent. However, voters who listed energy and gas prices as the top issue of the 2008 presidential campaign said they favored McCain over Obama 50 percent to 34 percent.
“We have great chances of success here, because the American people are starting to rise up and understand that there is a plan to get out of this that is responsible,” said Walberg when asked if he thought there was any chance the Democratic leadership would allow a Republican energy bill on the floor of the House for a vote by the end of the year. 
“The local newspapers are covering it, and the local radio stations are talking about it,” said Walberg. “Americans are hearing the message, and they are the ones that are going to change this.”

Michelle Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be the featured first-night speakers at the Democratic National Convention, which also will include a videotaped message from Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Pelosi, however, who outlined a proposal for an energy plan on Saturday that includes the possibility of limited offshore drilling along with a number of other “alternatives,” claims that Republicans are too picky.
“To date, Democrats have brought forward 13 major initiatives to accomplish the above goals, yet each time a majority of House Republicans have voted against these proposals,” Pelosi said on her official Web site. 
In addition to allowing some further offshore drilling, Pelosi’s “comprehensive energy plan” includes releasing oil from the 700 million barrel federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and creating a federal Renewable Electricity Standard that would require oil companies to pay billions of dollars to invest in clean energy resources.
The Democrats’ plan “will consider opening portions of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for drilling, with appropriate safeguards, and without taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil,” Pelosi said Saturday.
Republicans note that, in her radio address, Pelosi did not say how or when her energy plan might be brought to the House floor, and her press office would not comment on the details of the plan despite requests from
“She said she would consider [more drilling], which is a political safety valve of couching her words very carefully,” Walberg told “It’s maddening the gamesmanship they are trying to play while people are suffering under the weight of these high costs.”
Congress imposed its moratorium on offshore drilling in 1981 and has extended it each year since then for all coastal waters, except for parts of the Gulf of Mexico and some waters off the coast of Alaska.
In July, President Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling that was put into place by his father George H.W. Bush in 1990 and sustained by President Bill Clinton.
The congressional moratorium on offshore oil drilling, however, has not been lifted.

Earlier in the month, Obama, in a change of policy, also announced that he would support opening select parts of Florida’s coast to more drilling.

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