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The GOP Energy Plan: 'All Too Familiar'

Eight months after the Democratic-led New Direction Congress led the enactment of a landmark new energy policy for our country, House Republicans are now releasing an energy plan that largely rehashes failed ideas on domestic drilling or proposes ideas that they have repeatedly blocked in the past.

Their all-out legislative battle in recent years to protect the record profits of oil companies earning record profits has earned them the moniker “Grand Oil Party.”  They call their plan “All of the Above.”  Americans paying $4 a gallon thanks to an energy policy literally written by the oil industry may see it as “All Too Familiar.”

The GOP says their plan will “open our deep water ocean resources.”  
That means drill off more of America's beaches.

  • According to the Bush Administration's own Energy Department, if we repealed the offshore drilling ban today, oil and gas production would not begin there until 2017, and impact on prices would be “insignificant.” [EIA, 2007]
  • 80 percent of America's oil and gas natural resources are in areas where oil companies can already drill. [Committee on Natural Resources, 6/18/08]
  • There are 33 million acres of the federal OCS lands that are under lease but are not producing.
  • Oil companies are spending more of their record profits on buying back stock than they are on new oil and gas exploration -- both on and off shore. [AP, 7/21/08]

The Democratic-led Congress leadership has pushed for responsible drilling practices, telling the oil companies to drill on the 68 million acres--the size of Georgia and Illinois combined--that they already hold.  House Republicans have twice blocked this drilling proposal.

The GOP says their plan is to “open the Arctic coastal plain.”  
That means drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

  • According to the Bush Administration's own Energy Department, if we opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling today, we wouldn't get the first drop of oil for 10 years, and it would take nearly 20 years for the field to reach peak production, and at that time, gas prices would drop by less than 2 cents a gallon. [EIA, 5/08]

The Democratic-led Congress has proposed, as part of a larger plan, to expedite drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A), which holds over 10.6 billion barrels of oil - more than the Arctic Refuge.  House Republicans blocked this measure.

The GOP says their plan is to “allow development of our nation's shale oil resources.”
That means open up huge parts of the American West to costly, water-intensive, land-stripping “tar shale” practices even though it's use is not commercially viable now.

The Republicans want to open up 2.3 million acres of public lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming for tar shale development despite the fact that 3 million acres of prime tar shale lands are already owned by oil companies.

  • The technology needed for commercially-viable extraction of oil from tar shales does not yet exist.
  • To convert tar shale into oil, enormous electricity and water are needed to power the operation. It takes about three barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil from tar sands. This water would be taken in parts of the country experiencing long-standing water supply issues and historic droughts.  [Wilderness Society, 3/08]
  • Furthermore, even the most optimistic estimates say it will take 20 years for tar shales to produce 1 million barrels of oil per day and 30 years to produce 3 million barrels of oil per day. [RAND, 2005]

The Democratic-led Congress has expanded the use of American-grown biofuels transitioning to non-food sources, such as switchgrass and woodchips, rather than continuing America's dependence on foreign oil. House Republicans have repeatedly voted against investing in renewable energy development.

The GOP says their plan is “to improve energy conservation and efficiency.”  
Republican actions tell a different story.

  • Vice President Dick Cheney summed up his party's view: “Conservation is a sign of personal virtue, not an energy policy.” [USA Today, 5/1/01]
  • From 1995 to 2007, the Republican majority and President Bush repeatedly blocked efforts to increase efficiency standards for vehicles, buildings, lighting, air-conditioning, and appliances.  The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act finally broke the obstruction on appliance and lighting standards.
  • One of the first things the Bush Administration did after it took office was to reverse a regulation to strengthen the efficiency of central air conditioners by 30%, and then it dragged its feet in implementing new appliance standards of the 2005 Energy Policy Act.
  • The President's 2009 budget cuts renewable energy and energy efficiency programs at the Department of Energy $467 million below the FY 08 enacted level. President Bush's 2009 budget request eliminates funding for programs that help low-income families save millions of dollars by making their homes more energy efficient. [2008]
  • If the Republican majority had not blocked the transition to a 35-mile per gallon (mpg) standard in the mid 1990's, then we would now be saving 1.5 million barrels of oil per day and consumers would be saving $90 billion a year on gasoline they didn't have to buy.

The Democratic-led Congress improved vehicle, lighting, and appliance standards in 2007, over Republican objections, and we passed energy tax credits to help families afford plug-in hybrid cars. Despite President Bush's opposition, Democrats will continue to fight for funding for low-income Americans to weatherize their homes.

The GOP says their plan will “promote new and expanding energy technologies.”
Republican actions tell a different story.

  • President Bush and Congressional Republicans continue to block legislation that would repeal unnecessary tax breaks for Big Oil and move them to renewable energy. Republicans have voted at least four times against the tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency that are key to an energy independent future.
  • Funding for energy technology research has been woefully inadequate under President Bush - around a third the level seen during the energy crisis in the late 1970s - underscoring the low priority this Administration has given to investing in new technologies to solve the energy and climate crisis.

The Democratic-led Congress passed legislation to extend and expand tax incentives for renewable energy, retain and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs and spur American innovation and business investment. Democrats will continue to push for a Renewable Electricity Standard that would require 15 percent of all electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. The majority of House Republicans oppose all of these measures.

The New Direction Congress taking action to bring down high energy prices squeezing American families and businesses. Tomorrow, Democrats will vote on a proposal to draw down a small portion of oil the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to immediately expand available supplies, send a strong message to oil speculators, and help reduce the record prices that are helping push the economy toward recession.

We hope House Republicans will drop their opposition and stand with Democrats to pass this crucial bill.