Too much government? Paul stands alone against spill subpoena power
When the House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to grant subpoena powers to a presidential commission formed to investigate the BP oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, the sole “no” vote was cast by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).
A Paul spokeswoman declined to comment on the vote, but the Texas libertarian is well known as a supporter of offshore drilling.
Paul, who has described the $20 billion BP escrow fund as a “PR stunt,” earlier this week authored an opinion piece, titled “Too Much Government in the Gulf,” which suggested that he sees the loss of support for offshore drilling resulting from the BP disaster as a “tragedy” equivalent to the disaster itself.
“As usually happens after disasters,” Paul writes, “countless people — even officials in local and state government — have come forward who know what needs to be done and are willing to help, but have been stymied by federal bureaucratic red tape as the oil continues to gush. The real problem is not so much a lack of government assistance, but government getting in the way of those who have solutions.’
Paul does express a hope that BP will be “held responsible for all damages, not shielded by liability caps or reimbursed under the table by taxpayers.” But his real fear appears to be that “recent polls show sharply waning support for offshore drilling.”
“We still need oil, and a lot of good jobs depend on oil production,” Paul argues. “It is crucial to the functioning of our economy. But if accidents continue to be handled this way, it is easy to understand why so many see more cost than benefit to off-shore drilling, and that is also a tragedy.”
Paul’s support for expanding domestic oil production goes back many years. He has repeatedly pushed to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, and in May 2007, he introduced the “Affordable Gas Price Act,” which would have nullified “all provisions of existing federal law that prohibit spending appropriated funds to conduct oil or natural gas leasing and preleasing activities for any area of the Outer Continental Shelf.”
“Congress continues to reject simple measures that could increase the supply of oil,” Paul complained in 2008. “For example, Congress refuses to allow reasonable, environmentally sensitive, offshore drilling.” He reintroduced the same act in May 2009.
It appears, however, that although Paul is in favor of tax incentives and government subsidies to promote oil and gas exploration and production, he is firmly against government taking any active role in overseeing those activities.