Oil rig pumpjacks, also known as thirsty birds, extract crude from the Wilmington Field oil deposits area near Long Beach, California in this July 30, 2013 file photo.
David McNew/Reuters

GOP’s poorly timed push for drilling

House Republicans don’t have much time left before the end of the year, and they have a long to-do list that the GOP majority will struggle to tackle. The number of important, pending bills that require attention isn’t short: immigration, appropriations, the farm bill, expiring unemployment benefits, voting rights, tax reform, the budget, etc.
So with the clock ticking, what did House Republicans work on yesterday? A bill to speed up oil-drilling permits and expanding federal lands for “energy development.”
“We have tremendous potential for new onshore oil and natural-gas production on federal lands,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) argued. “But the Obama administration is actively and purposely keeping these resources off-limits.”
None of this is especially surprising – though it does undermine the whole “we don’t have time for immigration” pitch – but the House GOP’s timing could be better.
In the decades-long fight for energy independence, the United States has scored a major symbolic victory.
In October, for the first time since February 1995, the U.S. produced more crude oil than it imported, the Energy Information Administration said this week.
The White House even released a nice chart.
So, let’s take stock. Oil production is at a 24-year high, as is natural gas production. Oil prices have dropped, as have oil imports.
It’s against this backdrop that House Republicans ignore real work and devote the shrinking calendar to a bill calling for more oil drilling – a bill they know probably can’t pass the Senate and that’s already drawn a veto threat from the White House.
Imagine what would be possible with a House majority interested in actual governing.