Congressman Cory Gardner has recently laid down the gauntlet and challenged the Obama administration to put its money where its mouth is on energy independence and job creation. Both of those themes have been constants on Obama's teleprompter for years, while they have been generally lacking in the actual policies he implements.
Gardner's new bill to expand energy production on Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) puts the themes into action, which will create 50,000 jobs and a million barrels of oil a day. For comparison, that is the amount of oil we import from Saudi Arabia every day, so it's no drop in the bucket.
Obama has pushed back with a generic rejection of expanded oil production, claiming it would increase emissions. There has been no attempt to claim that drilling on the OCS would emit an especially high amount of emissions, but that extra emissions means we shouldn't drill. Thought it's not as if we just won't use that oil, just that Obama would seemingly rather see Saudi Arabia or Hugo Chavez's Venezuela get the jobs and wealth from the oil production.
Oil will continue to drive the world's economy and serve as the main energy source for vehicles for decades to come, at a minimum. Solar powered cars are in no one's near future, save for a few trust fund kids in Boulder and wealthy liberals who emit high levels of smug. So we can either face reality and tap into the vast resources beneath our land, or we can stick our heads in the sand mumbling about renewable energy and let other countries get the jobs, while continuing our addiction to oil from unfriendly nations.
With this legislation Cory Gardner is drawing a line in the sand and daring President Obama to stand on the side opposed to American job creation and a lessening of our dependence on foreign oil. As the NY Times notes, the last poll in March on views of domestic energy production found that 60% of Americans supported expanded offshore drilling. With $4/gallon gas and unemployment staying unsustainably high, the Times notes that Americans’ support for expanding American production of energy is likely to only increase.
The bill has bipartisan support in the House, earning the votes of five Democrats in committee, though the bill's success in the Senate is not guaranteed. If the failure of the Senate to get rid of tax credits and deductions from the oil and gas industry is any sign, there are a high number of pro-American energy Senate Democrats who may side with Gardner and the bipartisan House majority on this bill.
In that case, Obama would be forced to veto the measure to stop it. If that happens it would leave Obama in the awkward position of standing against job creation and his own party. Not exactly the place he wants to be going into a tough re-election.
The fact that a freshman Republican is able to lay down the gauntlet so starkly is a great credit to Gardner and his effectiveness in Washington. Out of a class of 87 freshman, Gardner has risen to the top and defined himself as a rising star to watch. From challenging the EPA on their lack of concern for the jobs impact of their regulations to now forcing Obama on the record on energy independence and job creation, Gardner has had a highly successful first six months.