Is Offshore Drilling a Losing Issue for Dems?

Is Offshore Drilling a Losing Issue for Dems?


Over at Next Right, William Beutler thinks Democratic opposition to off-shore drilling might be as much a loser as their support of gun control in the late ‘90s. Beutler notes that, like support for gun control, support for the offshore drilling ban is supported by less than a majority of Americans and, more significantly, is unpopular among independents and centrist leaning types such as Virginia Senator Jim Webb.

Beutler concludes that Democrats could cost themselves votes by adhering to what may end up seeming like a backwards view of our priorities.

Here’s my problem with linking gun control to offshore drilling: When it comes to drilling, we can make a fairly decent estimate as to how much oil is available and how long it will take to extract and refine. We can even weigh the risks associated with offshore drilling (i.e. the chance for oil spills) and factor that in to our decision. But for gun control, it’s almost impossible to put together a scientifically valid study of gun control laws’ affect on violent crime and murder. There are too many variables for us to measure, so many Americans decide that the best choice is adhering to our Constitution and enforcing the laws we already have rather than loading up on new, unproven restrictions.

I think, if Democrats want to oppose offshore drilling, they can make a reasonable case that the supply is minimal and the extraction timeline too extended for use to take the chance of fouling our coastline. Now, they would their position to actually be supported by the facts and, as best as I can tell, those are still coming in (at least I’m unconvinced we have the whole picture yet). But if the facts are on the Democratic side, then they may be able to avoid this becoming a hugely negative issue for them. If the facts are against them, then I suggest they eat their crow and get in line behind Jim Webb.

  • Jim S

    Well, if the Democrats point out how much of our shoreline is already available for drilling and that the oil companies have had their own reasons for not using the leases they have some people might start asking questions instead of listening to the current BS.

  • Avinash_Tyagi

    Actually everyone is saying that it won’t lower fuel costs any time soon, even Bush and McCain advisors, its a pander bear issue

  • burt

    Ken Williamson makes so good points about this on

    He makes a good case for drilling.

    The point is, we have no choice but to drill if we continue driving our vehicles.

  • J. Harden

    Jim S. – Are you sure that those leases are not overridden by the federal ban on offshort drilling? Not a rhetoric questions. If you have link a link I’d appreciate it.

  • Right Democrat

    A blanket opposition to expanded offshore oil drilling is likely to be a negative for Democrats. Any political benefit from opposing drilling is basically limited to Florida and I suspect that the average citizen even in the Sunshine State is willing to reconsider the ban on drilling.

    Of course, the domestic supply of oil alone is not enough to meet future energy needs but tapping our own offshore resources would reduce the flow of dollars to terrorists and also help to cut the massive trade deficit which is weakening the dollar. Neither party has it right on policy but the Republicans presently have the better political pitch on energy. We need a balanced approach on energy that includes conservation measures, developing new energy sources, greater use of nuclear power and drilling our offshore oil.

    The fact that many Democrats are afraid to talk about expanding nuclear power further contributes to the perception that the party does not really mean business about energy independence. Obama needs to embrace expansion of nuclear power which can help to reduce carbon emissions. The party need to stop pandering to the hard-line environmentalists and advocate a balanced approach to greatly reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

  • BenG

    Well, at least it’s a distinct difference of opinion that we can judge the candidates on and try to make a rational call, thanks for that!

    Right Dem. has made good points that speak well for the Repub position. The Dems loose the argument if they think energy alternatives will replace oil substantially enough before drilling will come online. I hate when Gov throws large amounts of our money into subsidies for things like ethanol b/4 they have the facts. Does anyone care what happened to Brazil when they did the same thing?

    Of course, simply saying that the oil co’s should be given exactly what they’ve wanted without changing any of their practices just sounds like more of the same old Republican ideology that has gotten us into the mess we’re in now. I have a hard time trusting the GOP as they finally promise to get up front with the new energy alternatives so badly needed. Where have they been for the last decade when they had their chance?

  • Jim S

    Here’s one link, J Harden. Here’s one from years ago, showing that the argument has been going on long before $4 a gallon gas. Basically, they have lots of land available, lots of leases they haven’t used and I just don’t see any proof being offered that the areas they don’t already have access to are superior to the ones that haven’t been used.