Also Coming Up Empty: “Drill Here” Rhetoric

Isaiah J. Poole

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is spearheading a new campaign that obscures the facts about the practical impact of opening up new lands to oil drilling.

You may have already seen the ads while surfing the Web: “Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less.” Don’t be fooled.

It’s spearheaded by “American Solutions for Winning the Future,” Gingrich’s 527 organization, and among its key funders are Republican stalwarts Sheldon Adelson ($2 million) and Fred Godley ($1 million), both wealthy property developers.

The group is asking people to sign a petition that asks “the U.S. Congress to act immediately to lower gasoline prices (and diesel and other fuel prices) by authorizing the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries.”

But, as my colleague Bill Scher points out, neither the U.S. Congress nor anyone else can “act immediately to lower gasoline prices” by authorizing more oil drilling.

But the Congress can, and should, demand more answers about why oil companies want to drill in places such as the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve when they, as Democrats such as Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., pointed out this week, haven’t fully utilized 68 million acres of federal lands where they are already authorized to explore and drill.

More importantly, Gingrich could do the country a real service by holding his own conservative allies accountable for dragging their feet and resisting change—denying climate change while never denying a tax break or regulatory weakening on the oil industry wish list—and causing the country to be unprepared for the current crisis.

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