q. i. f.?

Energy plan follies

SR Let’s, uh, let’s talk to . . . let’s see, uh, Bruce, in Richmond Virginia. Welcome, you’re on the Diane Rehm Show, Bruce.

Bruce Good morning.

SR Good morning!

Bruce Uh, when you look, when you look at the price on oil, or gasoline as a retail product, it’s based on futures, not what is actually happening in terms of supply and demand but what might happen. Now the president, I understand, a few weeks ago, signed an executive order opening up the first phase of off-shore drilling. And prices dropped instantly! When are the two parties gonna come to the table and reconcile some of their partisan issues and actually take the role of leadership, instead of constantly bickering back and forth over these small issues, and, and, and put the American people first? I’ll take my answer off the air. Thank you.

SR Okay. Chris?

CH Well, I hope Bruce won’t take this as a flip answer, but perhaps they’ll get serious and talk with each other after the election. I think the prospects for any deal other than this tax extension deal on energy are, are nil.

SR Do you two both agree with that?

SB Essentially yeah. Yeah.

SR Nodding doesn’t work on the radio!

[Laughter]

SB We, we don’t see a lot of movement in a lot of energy legislation happening until after the election.

DS Yeah, I’ve said this earlier, I’m hopeful about the tax credits, and I think we’ve got some real momentum on that. I’m more skeptical about off-shore drilling and those sorts of issues.

SR Is this just because there’s not enough time, and the differences are so great, and you’ve got rules in the Senate that uh allow for filibusters, the President’s gonna veto, there’s just too much to do too quickly?

CH Well, that’s certainly the fall-back excuse, but the real reason is that the Republicans really believe that they have a winning issue, politically, . . .

SR Mm hmm.

CH . . . in this coming election by hammering the Democrats on their opposition to off-shore drilling. And they . . . .

SR Clearly the Democrats agree, or they wouldn’t be moving this bill.

CH Exactly.

SR I mean, let’s be honest about it.

CH And the Senate Republicans are simply not gonna do this. And, uh, a Senate Democrat, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, has said that the House bill is dead on arrival in the Senate.

SR Except for these extenders on, on, that . . .

CH Yes.

SR . . . where, where you said earlier there has been a bipartisan agreement, including the Republican leadership of the Senate.

CH Exactly, and that’s very significant.

SR I’m Steve Roberts, and you’re listening to the Diane Rehm Show. David? Go ahead.

DS I, I think Chris is basically right. But you just cannot emphasize enough how sad it is for our country that the crisis of rising oil prices over the past year has turned us to a focus on off-shore drilling. If you wanted to make a list of the top five solutions to America’s, America’s energy problems, off-shore drilling would not be on the list. We have an opportunity to change our economy, to use plug-in electric cars, natural gas vehicles even, biofuels, more efficient cars, that’s where we should be focusing, not on this, on this fundamental distraction of off-shore drilling.

SB I . . .

SR Sarah.

SB . . . I disagree with David that that’s where the focus has been. Actually, with high oil prices Americans respond with a huge amount of efficiency. We’ve seen a drop in oil consumption, . . .

SR Mm hmm.

SB . . . less, less oil consumption in this country in response to these high prices, so Americans have shown that they are capable of instituting efficiency, that they are willing to do it and that they’re doing it now.

SR Including driving less.

SB Including driving less!

Excerpted from the first hour of Wednesday’s Diane Rehm Show, a look at energy legislation working, kind of, through Congress now. (The House put their deal through Tuesday, and it’s on to the Senate.)

The discussion’s worth a listen — it’s a useful snapshot. Participants are guest host Steve Roberts, Brookings Institution fellow David Sandalow, American Petroleum Institute rep Sarah Banaszak, and Energy Daily writer Chris Holly.

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