The news for those of us pushing for more American energy exploration gets better and better. Senator Dick Durbin tells The Hill * newspaper that Democrats might not be able to continue the nearly 30-year-old moratorium on oil and gas exploration off the Outer Continental Shelf and in the oil-shale fields of the West. The ban is set to expire on October 1. Reports *The Hill:

Democrats had considered pushing through the stopgap [spending] resolution with the offshore drilling ban and daring the GOP to block the measure, which would shut down the federal government just weeks before Election Day. But they now seem reluctant for such a high-profile fight before Nov. 4.

“That will be hard to do, at this point,” Durbin said of extending the offshore drilling ban. “As you can see, we’re making some concessions on the issue.”

Under withering pressure from Republicans and the American people who overwhelmingly support new drilling, Democrats clearly have made concessions – but they don’t go nearly far enough. Indeed, the House-passed bill is a joke. Republicans have an excellent opportunity to end the ban on offshore drilling without any new taxes, regulations, or subsidies simply by refusing to go along with the ban’s renewal. In other words, the ban is lifted if Congress does nothing.

If Senate Republicans instead decide to go along with the plan being pushed by the “Gang of 16,” which would keep massive quantities of oil and gas off limits while increasing taxes, it would be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. This is one time we really need a “Do Nothing” Congress.

Joe Eule