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In Denver, DeMint Keeps Heat on Democrats Over Energy

Taking on Democrats during a visit to their national convention city of Denver, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). today kept up the GOP drumbeat on energy policy, arguing for expanded offshore drilling and criticizing any Democrats who stand in the way.

DeMint has launched what he calls American Energy Freedom Day, scheduled for Oct. 1. That’s the day that the prohibition on offshore drilling expires.

After the ban on offshore drilling expires, DeMint said at a press conference, “we can go after our own energy.”

High gasoline prices are a pressing economic issue for American families, “sucking the life out of any discretionary spending,” he said.

DeMint made assurances that no Republicans want a confrontation, but he added that if the ban is attached to the government’s end-of-the-year spending bills, as is standard practice, his fellow party members will stand up in opposition.

Earlier this summer, many Democrats were skeptical of allowing more offshore drilling, but that view has softened after repeated Republican attacks. Now, a number of key Democrats have said they may be willing to accept additional drilling as long as their main energy priority — a focus on expanding renewable energy — is approved in tandem.

DeMint acknowledged the need to develop other alternative fuel resources such as wind, solar and geothermal power, but he said oil and offshore drilling remains his top concern.

“We need an ample supply of oil and fossil fuels to develop alternative fuels,” DeMint said, adding, “The states who are primarily responsible for energy development should benefit from it the most.”

Former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.), the Colorado chairman for the Coalition for a Conservative Majority, said he believes that the American West, and specifically Colorado, has a key role to play in establishing energy independence.

“Colorado is the epicenter,” Beauprez said, referring to the state’s resources in oil shale, nuclear, solar and wind power.

“We’re going to hold [the Democrats] accountable” on energy policy, Beauprez said.