WASHINGTON – Democrats sought on Saturday to drum up support for compromise legislation on offshore drilling, challenging Republicans to break from Bush administration policies that neglect development of alternative energy sources.
"Enough is enough," Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado said in the Democrats' weekly radio address, citing rising energy prices, including $4-a-gallon diesel fuel.
Salazar chastised Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, and other Senate Republicans who have blocked and opposed tax incentives for renewable energy.
"President Bush and Sen. McCain have failed to show any leadership on this issue for the last eight years," Salazar said. "Republicans have to decide whether they just want to talk about our energy problems on the campaign trail, or whether they will work with Democrats to actually solve them."
The Senate next week will consider at least three proposals that call for an expansion of offshore drilling — one being developed by Democrats, another by Republicans and a third by a bipartisan group. All are expected to have some expansion of offshore drilling, but doubts remains as whether any of the proposals being considered will garner the needed 60 votes required to overcome a certain filibuster.
Salazar is part of the bipartisan group supporting a proposal that calls for both limited offshore drilling and taxing the oil industry, while funneling more money into renewable energy. Republican leaders have not embraced the compromise.
In his address, Salazar said many Republicans seem to believe that drilling alone is the answer to the nation's energy problems.
"We need to replace the oil we import from countries that don't like us with alternative energy sources that we produce right here at home. Biofuels. Wind. Solar. Hydrogen. Geothermal. Clean Coal. American energy, American jobs. That's what we need," he said.
Republican leader Mitch McConnell cautioned this week against taking "half measures." The Kentucky lawmaker said conservation alone isn't enough and it's essential to increase domestic oil production.