This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," July 7, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
DAVIS ASMAN, GUEST HOST: Oil dropping nearly $4 today, at one point, dipping below $140 a barrel. Is oil coming down because Democrats in Congress are coming around?
Welcome, everybody. I'm David Asman, in for Neil Cavuto.
Top senators are now calling for an energy summit this week. My next guest is among them. He is a Democrat who now supports offshore oil drilling. He's Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska. And he joins us now.
Senator Nelson, what brought you around to this point?
SEN. BEN NELSON, D-NEB.: I — nothing brought me around.
I have never been against drilling. I voted for drilling out in the Gulf of Mexico. I think drilling in the United States makes a lot of sense. We just can't drill ourselves out of this problem. That's what has been my point. We can do some short-term drilling. And that certainly can take some of the pressure off. But that is not going to be the — the full answer to the problem we have today and tomorrow.
ASMAN: Well, Senator, you said you are always for drilling. What about the Destin Dome, where there are apparently 2.6 trillion cubic feet of gas, natural gas, available. And Chevron has been trying to get into it for years, but they blame folks in Congress for preventing them from doing so.
NELSON: Well, you know, there is a lot of blame going around. The blame game is pretty rampant here in Washington. If the oil companies are blaming Congress, I know there are a lot of members of Congress blaming the oil companies.
ASMAN: But what about that specific example? You say you're in favor of drilling. What about that specific example of the Destin Dome, which I'm sure you know about, trillions of cubic feet of gas available? Chevron wants to go for it. And they say you guys are preventing them.
NELSON: They all have a lot of leases right now, David. So, everybody wants to go drill someplace where they don't have a lease and get new leases.
There are all kinds of leases that are out them for them to use. But I would take a look at the Destin Gulf. But I have been supportive of drilling in the Gulf. And there was an article in the Omaha paper yesterday that there's more drilling going on in North Dakota than ever before, that, every time they punch a hole in the ground, they make a new millionaire. And there are more millionaires to go around in North Dakota than there have ever been.
So, it's not just about where you drill. It's about making sure that we're drilling. But the problem has been that too many people think that's the answer.
ASMAN: Well, what about New Jersey and Florida, then, for example? What about Florida and New Jersey?
NELSON: I have been for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
ASMAN: We're talking about...
The Gulf of Mexico already — Louisiana has 3,200 oil rigs that are pumping already right off of their shores. But what about new oil exploration and drilling off the coast of Florida and off the coast of New Jersey in the Atlantic?
NELSON: I have always supported that. I think it needs to be done right. I think it has to be done in a safe manner.
But don't confuse me with somebody that is saying, let's not drill. But compare me to the people in complete — and include me in the people who are saying it is not the full answer. We're not going to find the solution at the bottom of the next empty oil well.
But we have to do some of the drilling, both short-term and long-term. But we have got to move way beyond oil as a standard, so that we have alternative fuels as well.
ASMAN: Of course. But we also have to realistic, Senator. And 85 percent of our energy comes from fossil fuels right now. We're not — as much as we all want to go to windmills and all the other things, solar panels, it ain't going to happen overnight.
What about Governor Corzine and others who are of your party who are so far against drilling, and today just came out with another summit that goes in the opposite direction, and wants to continue these prohibitions?
NELSON: Well, they don't answer for me and I don't answer for them.
ASMAN: Well, I know that you don't answer for them, but can you convince them? They are in your party.
NELSON: Well, I don't know.
What I would like to do is talk about the kinds of things we can do and things we can do immediately, as opposed to jumping off on an issue like that.
ASMAN: That is a related issue.
NELSON: There's plenty of drilling that can be done in the Gulf of Mexico that right now that we don't have to worry about New Jersey at the moment. Let's not get ourselves so spread out on so — it is a scatter-gun approach that is going on today. We need the precision of a rifle shot to get ourselves focused on what...
ASMAN: And I'm sure you know this better than anybody, being a politician, is that the American people are fed up with these prices.
And they see oil and gas here at home. They want to drill. We saw a Rasmussen poll the other day that Floridians, Floridians themselves, 61 percent of them, want to drill off of the coast, say that will bring down the price of oil.
So, how much longer can Democrats in your — can folks in your party continue to say no more drilling, no matter what?
NELSON: David, you can make it as partisan as you want. It is not that simple. And you know it. Let's get away from the party talking points and talk about what the problem is.
ASMAN: Look, I'm not for party talking points either. McCain is against drilling in ANWR.