Conservatives Reject House “All Of The Above” Energy Bill

Bill Scher

The House leadership is offering a compromise “All of the Above” energy bill that goes farther than the Senate “Gang of 10″ compromise — both in coastal drilling and in clean energy. (See coverage from NYT, AP, Reuters and WSJ.)

Yet congressional conservatives still are rejecting it, furthering proving they do not really support an “All of the Above” energy strategy, because they are (literally!) in bed with Big Oil.

While the Senate bill would only mandate drilling off of Florida’s coast and allow other southeast states to choose drilling, the House bill would allow all coastal states to choose drilling off their coasts.

At the same time, the House plan joins the Senate in repealing Big Oil tax breaks and sweetheart royalty deals, channeling that revenue into clean energy, including renewable energy tax credits.

Further, the House proposal does more than the “Gang of 10″ in regards to renewable electricity — mandating 15% of our electricity comes from renewable sources — and by including support for green buildings and mass transit. (Climate Progress offers a more detailed, and not terribly enthusiastic, rundown.)

Like it or don’t like it, the new House bill certainly fits the “All of the Above” approach conservatives claimed their support for more drilling was rooted in.

The conservative response? Calling it a “hoax.” Why? They claim because royalties from new coastal drilling would not be shared with state governments, so states wouldn’t have incentive to opt-in.

Excuse me, conservatives. Didn’t you just claim that the mere utterance of more coastal drilling was lowering gas prices for everybody? Haven’t you been saying that when we actually “Drill Now” we would all “Pay Less” immediately? And now you reject a compromise claiming that isn’t incentive enough, that states need an additional handout for this to work?

(UPDATE: I should also note that the Senate “Gang of 10″ proposal does share royalties with states, yet conservatives found different excuses to reject that bill.)

It’s simply not a serious argument. It’s an excuse to reject an “All of the Above” bill because they don’t support an “All of the Above” energy policy. As conservatives are (literally!) in bed with Big Oil, they will not support anything that makes Big Oil pay their fair share in taxes, forces them to compete with clean energy companies, and gives us a choice besides buying increasingly expensive oil.

Conservatives are right that it would probably take a hefty bribe to get most states to allow drilling, but that’s because they are wrong about every other aspect of their argument.

Coastal drilling will not lower prices, according to Bush’s own Energy Department. It is not worth the risk to states which are dependent on their pristine coastlines for tourism revenue (Grist has noted few are expected to opt-in, if any). Even offering a share of royalties — revenue states wouldn’t see until a decade from now — is pretty meager incentive.

The political dynamic was shifted by conservatives during the summer, because they launched a coordinated dishonest propaganda campaign that was not forcefully rebutted, prompting the congressional leadership to offer an “All of the Above” compromise. But if conservative credibility is undermined by their rejection of the sort of “All of the Above” bill they had claimed to want, then the political dynamic will shift again.

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