The Corner

GOP Platform: Energy Debates

One of the trickiest obstacles for the Republican Party to navigate as it drafts its platform this year is John McCain’s opposition to drilling in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR). The party’s base supports it. The American Conservative Union released its platform agenda today, and it differed from the GOP-platform-as-drafted only in its explicit support for drilling in ANWR. The platform subcommittee on energy tackled this issue this morning, and here’s what they did:

The buzz in the room was that McCain sounded strong on Leno last night, repeatedly using the words “drill” and “drilling” to emphasize his support for new domestic energy exploration. The subcommittee members expressed dismay that the subsection of the platform’s energy chapter titled, “Growing American Energy Production” did not contain the word “drilling” anywhere. Several members expressed their desire to put the word “drilling” somewhere in the first two sentences of this subsection. Here’s how those two sentences read in the “Working Draft to Delegates”:

We simply must draw more American oil from American soil if we are to have the resources we need to achieve energy independence. We support accelerated exploration and development of American sources, from oilfields off the nation’s coasts to proven fields such as those in Montana, North Dakota, and Alaska.

The subcommittee decided to add the word “drilling” between the words “exploration” and “development.” Then one of the delegates brought up the ANWR issue. He said that the words “proven fields” could be interpreted to exclude ANWR, where a ban on exploration has prevented geologists from determining exactly how much oil is there. Another delegate suggested replacing “proven fields” with “onshore fields,” so that ANWR would be included.

The co-chairman of the subcommitte, Trey Grayson (moonlighting from his day job as the secretary of state of Kentucky), agreed. “The goal of this language is to not exclude ANWR –”

“– but to not court controversy by including ANWR,” another delegate added.

Grayson nodded. “Exactly, exactly.”

When all the revisions were done, a subcommittee staffer read the new sentences:

If we are to have the resources we need to achieve energy independence, we simply must draw more American oil from American soil. We support accelerated exploration, drilling and development in America from new oilfields off the nation’s coast to onshore fields such as those in Montana, North Dakota and Alaska.

The delegates blessed the new lines with a round of relieved applause. “This was one of the controversial areas and we just did it,” Grayson said.

Up next: global warming.

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