Sen. Jim Inhofe tells Newsmax that President Obama “hasn’t made a good decision yet” on the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and his Tuesday night speech about the spill was his “worst moment.”
The Oklahoma Republican also says Obama remains committed to a cap-and-trade bill — and charges that the Democrats are standing in the way of America’s energy independence.
Inhofe, first elected in 1994, is the Ranking Republican on the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee and a longtime opponent of cap-and-trade legislation to curb carbon emissions.
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In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Inhofe was asked about the president’s Tuesday speech from the Oval Office.
“I can’t find anyone who thinks he did a good job,” Inhofe responds.
“He didn’t address the subject. He’s having this big meeting with the BP people and this is after 53 days of doing nothing. He didn’t offer any solutions. He wanted to talk about other things that really weren’t related. I thought it was his worst moment.
“One of the interesting things is that he never used the term cap-and-trade. He never used the word climate. But he is still trying, in vain, to use the tragedy of the Gulf to have some kind of energy legislation.
“Cap and trade is dead. It is buried. It is gone. They don’t have the votes, and I’ve been fighting this now for eight years so we’ve clearly won that. However, he is still committed to the far left to have some kind of cap-and-trade.”
Obama’s strategy, Inhofe believes, is to wait until after the November elections and then try to pass a climate change bill in a lame duck session of Congress, so that Democrats who have been defeated will no longer be reluctant to support the bill.
The senator agrees that supporters of climate change legislation are trying to use the oil spill to generate support for cap-and-trade. “They’re thinking they can take that tragedy [and exploit it], and I can assure you they’re celebrating behind closed doors right now.”
Legislation has been introduced in Congress to lift Obama’s 6-month moratorium on offshore drilling. Asked if the legislation is likely to pass, Inhofe tells Newsmax: “I don’t think the chances are very good.
“But keep in mind the ban on drilling he’s saying is only for deepwater drilling. But it covers all other drilling too, and these legislative efforts would also lift the ban on public lands and some other areas.
“I believe in my heart that if we lifted all restrictions that are put on us [against] developing our resources, on the North America continent — that’s Mexico, Canada and us — we could be self-sufficient and not have to depend on the Middle East for one barrel of oil in four years.
“The problem we have is not that we don’t have the energy here. The CRS [Congressional Research Service], that’s bipartisan, said the United States has the largest reserves of gas, oil and coal in the world. All we have to do is to be able to develop our own resources. The Democrats won’t let us do that.
“I don’t think [we] have the votes to [lift the moratorium] when that comes to the Senate, but we’ll do everything we can to try to get it done.”
Inhofe says he has “no idea” why Obama refused to let Dutch ships with skimmers take part in cleanup efforts.
“I can’t crawl into his mind. I can only say that he hasn’t made a good decision yet on that whole cleanup. I’m sure he has a reason in his own mind but I have no idea.
“He should be looking for every resource. Of course it’s too late now. We should have been doing this two months ago, and telling the American people and the entire world we’re going to resolve this and get it all together, provide some leadership and get it done.
“Remember the criticism George Bush got during Katrina? They said it was a lack of leadership. Let me tell you, that leadership looks pretty good right now.
“This is the first time he’s had a really tough test and he flunked. It’s not just me that is saying he’s provided no leadership. It’s the far left. It’s MSNBC. It’s others out there that are saying, you’re just not getting it done.”
Inhofe adds: “Republicans I believe are going to take over the House and the Senate, and when that happens one of the first things I will be doing is saying let’s start exploiting the resources we have in America so that we can be energy independent, and quit worrying about all this green stuff that might come along 20 years from now or sometime in the future.”
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