Will ‘drill, baby, drill’ get killed?

Yesterday I wrote about the politics of who’s to blame for high gas prices and noted that many unions are backing EPA regulations, despite political rhetoric to the contrary.

Today comes another interesting item in the contrast between political rhetoric and public perception. In recent weeks, Republicans have been resurrecting the 2008 podium maxim “Drill, baby, drill” as a pithy answer to lowering gas prices.

This week, Republicans are introducing three bills to the house that would increase offshore drilling. Most controversial is H.R. 1231, the Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act, which would mandate that at least half the unleased area off the East Coast, the Southern California coast, the Arctic Ocean, and Alaska’s Bristol Bay be put up for lease sales for oil drilling every five years.

The nonpartisan Energy Information Administration has said the Republican bills would have a negligible impact on gas prices for the next decade.

However, despite the Republican push for increased drilling, a recent poll reveals that a majority of voters don’t want it. The NRDC Action Fund polled 1,001 adults in late April, and found that 58 percent of voters said they’d chose a candidate who supports moving beyond oil and investing in cleaner technologies like renewable energy.

Seventy-seven percent of the voters polled described themselves as “middle of the road,” “somewhat conservative,” or “very conservative.” Thirty percent described themselves as Democrat; 25 percent as Republican; and 37 percent as independent.

In fact, when asked about positions between two candidates, one who supports more drilling and one who supports renewable energy and moving beyond oil, 44 percent of voters said they feel strongly about moving beyond oil, while only 29 percent felt strongly about more drilling.

Meanwhile, the House is expected to vote on three bills in the next week that would increase offshore drilling and make regulations weaker than before the Gulf disaster.

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