Repugs Seek to Exploit Katrina for Oil Exploration, Say Repugs

Environmentally minded Republicans who say their party is out to use Hurricane Katrina and high gas prices as justification for pushing oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and Arctic? Apparently, they do exist, although pigs still can’t fly.

Republicans for Environmental Preservation have come out of left field to criticize the GOP leadership:

“What we are seeing is a blatant effort to exploit a national tragedy to advance long-held oil and gas industry objectives,” said David Jenkins, government affairs director for REP America. “I hope that a majority of our Republicans in Congress will see this misguided opportunism for what it is and reject it.”

REP’s targets include Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, who characterized the possibility that the hurricane could increase public support for expanded drilling as a “silver lining,” and called for lifting offshore drilling restrictions and for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Other congressional leaders REP says are exploiting Katrina include House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA), and Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, who announced his intent to open protected offshore areas by saying, “I’m going to go after OCS (Outer Continental Shelf).”

“If anything, Katrina has spotlighted the increasing perils of our heavy dependence on oil,” said Jim DiPeso, REP America policy director. “There is no prospect whatsoever that opening the Arctic Refuge and protected offshore areas to drilling would reduce the nation’s energy supply and price vulnerabilities. Whether it comes from off America’s coasts, from Alaska’s Arctic via an aging aboveground pipeline, or from the politically unstable Middle East, oil is an increasingly vulnerable energy source. Heavy oil dependence leaves our economy wide open to price and supply shocks.”

Opening the Arctic Refuge would have virtually no impact on gasoline prices. REP America pointed to a recent report from the federal Energy Information Administration showing that drilling in the Arctic Refuge would reduce gasoline prices by less than a penny 20 years from now.

“Anyone who claims that drilling in the Arctic Refuge will substantially reduce gas prices is either astonishingly misinformed or is intentionally not telling the truth to the American people,” DiPeso said.

REP offers a way to tell Congress you’re against drilling in the Arctic. Go here, sign up as a fake Repug, give a fake name, address and e-mail, and let them know where you would stand if you were a rightwing wingnut. It’s fun! Be the first kid on your block to pretend to be an environmentally friendly Republican!


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