The Senate is less than a month away from taking up the Climate Security Act and I’m pumped. This is the first ever vote in Congress on a real, science based bill to slash global warming pollution. Unfortunately, we’re going to have at least one "drill" before then. Next week, the Senate will vote on an energy package introduced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and much of the Republican Caucus.  How members vote will say much about where they stand on jumpstarting our clean energy future. The McConnell bill would mandate drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, lift federal oil and gas leasing moratoriums along the Eastern and Western Seaboards and expedite oil shale and other development activities in the Rocky Mountain West.

McConnell and other proponents of the legislation argue it will lead to lower gas prices for consumers. Never mind that the U.S. has less than 3% of the world’s oil so we could drill every national park, wildlife refuge and coastline and still be importing most of our and still completely dependent on global supply oil supply and demand factors. That’s why the Energy Information Agency (EIA) projects drilling in the Arctic Refuge would, at best, save pennies a gallon 20 years from now.

Instead of increasing our addiction to oil and making us more vulnerable to the OPEC cartel — as the McConnell bill does — the Climate Security Act promises to save Americans $130 billion on foreign oil through 2030. According to EIA, over a 20 year period American households are projected to save a an average $1650.

I’m confident the Senate will reject the McConnell drilling bill — the American people know these are the same failed energy schemes of the past. But it will be an important drill as we get ready for the Climate Security Act vote just a week weeks away. Who should we be watching? Keep your eye on Senator Mel Martinez from Florida. He’s opposed drilling offshore his state in the past? Will he support a bill that lifts federal leasing moratoriums? How about Gordon Smith (R-OR)? He has voted against drilling in the Arctic Refuge — will he stay steadfast? Smith will be a critical vote on the Climate Security Act as well so this is a key test.

In the meantime, call your Senators and tell them you oppose the McConnell bill. That you want to end our addiction to oil and pay less at the pump. That you want real global warming emission reductions; that you support the Climate Security Act….Remember, this is a drill!

– Adam Kolton, Director Congressional and Federal Affairs, National Wildlife Federation

Published: May 9, 2008