Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wiring Around Nancy Pelosi

Despite polls showing nearly 70% of Americans in favor of increased domestic oil production, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has no intention of allowing a straight up-or-down vote on eliminating the federal government's roadblocks to energy development. The Republican congressmen who are staging a recess "camp in" on the House floor are helping draw attention to the predicament, but hardly anyone is talking about the solution to the bottle-necked legislation.

The political solution is fairly simple, but it will require your help.

Pelosi is comfortable in her position because she is not threatened. The voters of her San Francisco congressional district will embrace her for her refusal to allow a vote on energy. There is nothing we can do about them, and therefore there is nothing we can do to pressure her. She is, for all intents and purposes, an immovable object.

But even Nancy Pelosi is not omnipotent. There is a procedural solution that does not require her approval or acquiesance. It is called a "discharge petition." If a majority of the members of the House of Representatives sign one attached to a specific bill or resolution, then that legislation must be brought up for a vote.

There is a discharge petition on House Resolution 3089, the "No More Energy Excuses Act of 2007" authored by Texas Congressman Mac Thornberry. His bill

would create a competitive leasing program to responsibly drill on federal lands in Alaska and remove the congressional moratoria on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf; encourage construction of new refineries by requiring the IRS to implement provisions from the Energy Policy Act of 2005; allow tax exempt bonds to be used for construction, and make use of federal lands for new refineries; expand electricity generation by encouraging investment into building new nuclear power plants and boosting alternative energy development through wind power by extending the Production Tax Credit for ten years.
Simply put, it removes restrictions on drilling and provides incentives for alternative energy resources. It might not be perfect - no one plan is - but it is a good start. It is not merely a "let's drill oil" bill.

According to former Rep. Ernest Istook, now a fellow at the American Heritage Foundation and appearing on Tulsa KFAQ's morning show with Pat Campbell, only one Democrat member of Congress has signed the discharge petition.

So far.

Our task: to get self-professed conservative Democrats to do more than pay election year lip service to energy independence. It should require 20 or 30 signers to get the job done.

I do not assume that this will be easy. I e-mailed my Democratic (and supposedly pro-drilling) congressman earlier today, asked him to consider signing the discharge petition. The return email (probably written by a staff member, I would assume) ignored my main point, contained a great deal of blather about possible solutions and then morphed into the sad fact that both parties are at fault for creating our energy woes to begin. And a "thank you" at the end.

I am not discouraged. It is exactly as I anticipated. One e-mail request is insufficient. It will take thousands of e-mails and phone calls to selected representatives before they figure out which way the wind is blowing.

For those of you in the 2nd District of Oklahoma, Rep. Dan Boren's web site, which has his e-mail link, can be found at If you have another "conservative" Democrat for a congressman, substitute the last name in the formula. Put it in your own words (please don't share form letters and don't spam!) and let your sincerity be up front and foremost. Be respectful - we are trying to win over hearts and minds.

This battle for energy independence is too important for you to stay on the sidelines. Our economy is teetering, the Democratic Party leadership is proposing solutions that will push it over the edge, and we are running out of time.

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