Pelosi backs more natural gas use, lists conditions for OCS vote

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed natural gas as a transition to alternative fuels on Aug. 24 but continued to place conditions on a possible vote to open more of the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas leasing.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed natural gas as a transition to alternative fuels on Aug. 24 but continued to place conditions on a possible vote to open more of the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas leasing.

"You can have a transition with natural gas that is cheap, abundant and clean compared to fossil fuels . . . The fact is the supply of natural gas is so big and you do need a transition if you're going from fossil fuels . . . These investments in wind, in solar and biofuels, and [a] focus on natural gas are the real alternatives," she said during an interview on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press."

Pelosi also reiterated her earlier statements that more drilling offshore won't reduce prices at the gasoline pump. "But if the president wants to put it on the table and we can revisit the relationship between Big Oil and resources that belong to the American people," she continued, the matter might be discussed.

"We'll put it all on the table . . . offshore drilling, if that is worth it, but renewable resources so that we do not get in this situation again," Pelosi said.

"As speaker, I have to put everything on the table . . . I don't think [leasing additional OCS areas] is a good alternative, but if they can prove that it is and they want to pay royalties to the taxpayer, let us use those royalties to invest in renewable energy resources, they we have something to talk about," she said later in the interview.

But when interviewer Tom Brokaw said much later, "Sounds like we're going to have offshore drilling," Pelosi immediately responded, "No, no, no."

She also said that while Congress does not have a very high public approval rating, it is above those of the Bush administration and the oil industry. Congress successfully pressed the president to quit filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve when crude oil prices were more than $100/bbl, she noted.

"Do you want to know something? You know when the Republicans were doing what I call a war dance of the handmaidens of the oil companies on the floor of the House a couple of weeks ago? Well, one of those Thursdays was primary day in Tennessee and one of those Republicans was up for re-election and lost in the primary to a Republican who said that the incumbent was a candidate of Big Oil and offshore drilling," Pelosi said.

"So again, we have to talk to the American people about this. We have to do what is right for the consumer, for the taxpayer and for the environment. And we know how to do that. If they want to put that in the mix . . . have standards and no subsidies, give us royalties [and] revisit the relationship between the oil that belongs to the American people and the profits of Big Oil, let's have that discussion," she said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

More in Government