Yesterday, Senator Jim DeMint issued a press release and letter declaring that 36 senators had pledged to support October 1, 2008, as “American Energy Freedom Day.”
October 1, 2008, is the date the ban on oil exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf expires.
The 36 senators, writing to Senators Reid and McConnell, wrote
It is our hope that Democrats and Republicans will stand together to support American Energy Freedom Day on October 1, 2008. On this day, the current prohibitions on oil and gas exploration off the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and in the oil-shale fields of the West will expire, giving Americans the freedom to access their own energy and providing them with relief from sky-high prices at the pump.
We strongly encourage you to allow the expiration of these prohibitions on American energy exploration and production, as scheduled under current law, and **we will actively oppose any attempt to extend them.** Now is not the time to deny Americans access to their own energy supply.
What makes this interesting is the Gang of 10 compromise. The Gang of 10’s energy plan would uphold the OCS ban except for Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia beyond fifty miles out to see, and would allow drilling in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida.
The plan would also increase taxes on gas companies to pay for incentives for alternative energy. Ted Nugent has a good take on it here.
The letter Senator DeMint and the 35 other senators sent to Senators McConnell and Reid does not square with the Gang of 10 compromise. **Either Lindsey Graham threw Saxby Chambliss under the bus or he’s not really committed to Energy Freedom Day now. The two deals on which he’s put his name do not square with one another.