Just in from Sen. John Cornyn’s office: The GOP is set to do battle with hopeless, hapless Harry Reid over his oil speculation bill.
Roll Call is reporting this afternoon:
If Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) uses a parliamentary procedure to block amendments on an oil speculation bill he plans to offer Wednesday afternoon, Republicans will likely try everything in their arsenal to derail movement on it.
Senate Republicans want a battle with Reid over energy legislation that both parties hope will combat high gasoline prices; however, the Majority Leader has indicated that he is unwilling to allow amendments, particularly to permit more oil drilling, on his bill.
On Wednesday afternoon, Reid, along with Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray (Wash.) and Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan (N.D.), plans to offer legislation on oil market speculation, which Democrats argue is the main factor driving the soaring gas prices.
Senate GOP Conference Vice Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) said he would encourage his GOP colleagues to do whatever it takes to pressure Democrats to allow amendments, particularly because “speculation is just a piece of the problem” and other measures are needed.
However, another top GOP lawmaker was more pointed, arguing that Republicans want to have input and will not just stand by, forecasting that there will likely be a battle.
Cornyn’s statement is here.
Meantime, San Fran Nan’s in trouble, too:
U.S. House Democratic leaders are finding that their plans to increase domestic oil and gas drilling without breaching existing environmental safeguards may be threatened by a compromise package being developed by rank-and-file lawmakers.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has scheduled a Thursday vote on a bill that would force companies to explore under existing leases or return the leases to the federal government. The U.S. would also be required to speed up the sale of leases in a part of Alaska that is already open to drilling. Democrats are eager for leases to occur more than every two years, even as the government plans a new sale for this fall.
The move is meant to counter Republicans who are pushing to open up off-limits areas to drilling, especially in coastal areas along California and in the Gulf of Mexico. But that strategy may be put to the test by a package being developed by two dozen lawmakers, half Democrats and half Republicans. While still in the works, the centerpiece involves offering leases for at least some of the 574 million acres of coastal waters that are closed to drilling and using the proceeds to finance a host of tax breaks, such as those for renewable energy and household conservation measures…
… Pelosi met with the Blue Dog Democrats late Tuesday to discuss energy policy. She also met separately with oil-patch Democrats. An aide to the speaker said the oil-patch Democrats made suggestions for changes to the drilling bill that is on the floor on Thursday, but he declined to comment about the package that would open up protected coastal waters to drilling.
Offshore drilling is a sensitive subject for the environmental groups who are a big part of Pelosi’s base as well as for the Californians she represents. California’s coast is an important battleground because of its resources, including an estimated 5.6 billion barrels off the southern Californian coast alone. Six companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), already operate in the off-limits areas because they have production facilities that were grandfathered in when the ban took effect.
But environmental groups are loath to reopen the area, citing in part a U.S. Energy Information Administration study that found access to the Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf regions wouldn’t have a significant effect on domestic crude oil and gas production or on prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production wouldn’t be expected to start before 2017, the EIA found.
Hey, let’s have a look at the chart of the day again! Wheeee: