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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kiley Kroh: Senate Republicans Cast ‘Suicide Pact’ Vote For Big Oil

Senate Republicans Cast ‘Suicide Pact’ Vote For Big Oil

Our guest blogger is Kiley Kroh, Associate Director for Ocean Communications at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Wonk Room, Think Progress, May 18, 2011

Mitch McConnellIt’s beginning to feel like a broken record – once again the GOP put its allegiances to Big Oil ahead of their responsibilities to the American people. Yesterday, 45 of 47 Senate Republicans filibustered an attempt to end the outrageous handouts to Big Oil – a plan Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) claimed was “not a serious effort to address the price of gas at the pump.”

Today, McConnell and his colleagues presented their big oil agenda: a reckless expansion of offshore drilling that will leave oversight even weaker than it was before the Gulf oil disaster and have absolutely no effect on the price of gas at the pump. McConnell’s bill, which failed by a vote of 42 to 57, largely mirrored the trio of egregious drilling bills that passed the House earlier this month, and would disregard the crucial recommendations of the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

Instead, it would force the Administration to offer lease sales canceled in the wake of the BP Gulf oil disaster – including lease sales in the Arctic Ocean – while simultaneously reducing oversight. Michael Bromwich, the director of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, the agency tasked with permitting and oversight, called the House measures “a suicide pact.”

Republican efforts to tout the measure as an answer to rising gas prices are completely false and misleading. Affirming his support for the bill, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) asserted:
Our focus must be on lowering gas prices and creating economic growth and jobs in America … The way to do that is to develop more domestic energy.
As has been proven in several studies, expanding offshore drilling will have no effect on gas prices.

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) broke ranks with his party and expressed his objection to the bill – but not because it is an irresponsible giveaway of public resources. Vitter was “deeply disappointed” in the legislation because its expansion of offshore drilling isn’t dramatic enough. Republicans joining Vitter against the bill were Sens. Jim DeMint (SC), Mike Lee (UT), Richard Shelby (AL), and Olympia Snowe (ME). Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), another Republican senator with deep ties to the oil industry, said that if she had to use one word to describe the bill it would be “modest.”

Though McConnell’s bill will not advance in the Senate, the 42 Republican votes in favor of the measure highlight the Grand Oil Party’s blind subservience to the oil industry, regardless of the implications for American people. Frances Beinecke, a member of the National Oil Spill Commission, stated “the oil industry’s influence on the political process is holding America hostage.” It’s clear the partnership between Congressional Republicans and Big Oil continues to be hugely beneficial to both sides. The only ones suffering in this equation are the American people.

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