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Pelosi open to vote on offshore drilling

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: House minority leader calls for immediate vote on offshore drilling
  • House speaker says she'd be open for a vote on drilling as part of a larger package
  • Pelosi: Releasing oil from strategic reserves would quickly reduce gas prices
  • "We should be using that money to invest in renewable resources," Pelosi says
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(CNN) -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reversed her opposition to a vote on offshore drilling on "Larry King Live" on Monday night, saying she would consider a vote if it were part of a larger energy package.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urges the release of oil from strategic reserves as a way to bring down gas prices.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urges the release of oil from strategic reserves as a way to bring down gas prices.

Pelosi and fellow House Democrats have staunchly opposed Republicans' request for a vote on the drilling. Some Republicans stayed in chambers after Congress adjourned for the session, making speeches on energy policies, in an attempt to get Democrats to come back for a vote.

Reacting to Pelosi's remarks, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the speaker should call the House of Representatives back from its summer recess immediately if she is sincere about a vote on off-shore drilling.

"Our message to Speaker Pelosi is very simple: We are ready to vote on more energy production and lower gas prices right now, and we should not wait one more day to begin giving the American people the relief they expect and deserve," Boehner said. "If you meant what you said last night, we welcome you and your Democratic colleagues to join us in our historic call to action on American energy."

On Monday night, Pelosi said the vote would need to be part of a larger discussion that would include investing in renewable energy resources and releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Those options would help bring both immediate and long-lasting solutions to the energy crisis, she said.

In her interview with King, Pelosi talked about what the government and country needs to do to avert the energy crisis and quickly bring down gas prices. The following is an edited version of the interview:

Larry King: OK, Madam Speaker, author of "Know Your Power," why don't you bring [Congress] back?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Well, it's interesting to hear Sen. [John] McCain talk about bringing Congress back. He wasn't even in Congress this last session when we really had two very important bills on energy -- one to give tax credit for wind, solar and other renewable resources, and another about hybrid cars and the rest. So he wasn't in to vote when were in session and now he's saying call it back in.

And then one of the others said to the president, call Congress back in. And the president said no. The president said no. But the point is this: The American people are suffering. We have to do what is best for them.

How do we bring down the prices at the pump? We have said to the president, the fastest way to do this if in 10 days the price can come down if you will free our oil. Over 700 million barrels of oil the president is sitting on of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

No. 1, free our oil.

No. 2, they want to drill. If they want to drill, we have 68 million acres in the Lower 48 that they can drill in that are permitted and all the rest.

Three, stop the speculation.

Four, renew -- invest in renewable energy resources, which will bring a faster return than drilling offshore, which will take 10 years and produce 2 cents' reduction in 10 years off the price at the pump.

And then use natural gas. Natural gas is so plentiful. It's better for the environment, and it is cheaper.

So there are things that Congress can do, and we have voted on this over and over again. But the Republicans and the president have resisted. Instead, they have this thing that says drill offshore in the protected areas. Well, we can do that. We can have a vote on that. But it has to be part of something that says we want to bring immediate relief to the public and not just a hoax on them.

King: Would you vote yes on a package that includes drilling?

Pelosi: I would not. It depends how the drilling is put forth. But I don't -- that is not excluded, let me say it that way. It depends how that is proposed, if the safeguards are there. Now, mind you, 68 million acres -- 10 million more acres in Alaska where they can drill.

But if there's -- if we can get some great things, in terms of renewable energy resources: a renewable electricity standard, wind, solar, biofuels and the rest in that context, because if you make a decision only to go with the offshore drilling, you are increasing our dependence on fossil fuels, and you will never free yourself of that addiction unless you invest in the renewable energy resources that are good for the environment, cheaper for the consumer and will reverse global warming.

And the consumer is our first responsibility. The American taxpayer owns this oil offshore, by the way. Let me make this one final point. This oil is owned by the American taxpayers. The oil companies drill. We give them money to drill there. But we get very little in return.

So I think as we have this debate, which is a very healthy one to have and I welcome it; we have to review and realign the relationship between our oil, Big Oil's profits and what it means to the consumer and the taxpayer.

King: Do you expect -- do you suspect the oil companies of having a lot of clout here, influence over the Republicans?

Pelosi: Of course. Yes, they rule. And that's what we'll find out.

King: They rule?

Pelosi: When we have this vote, when we really define it and where the choice is clear to the American people -- I mean, do you know what -- Exxon Mobil, their last quarter, their profits were historic. Last year, they were historic. They outdid themselves this year already in this second quarter. And they insist that we pay them to drill. They need an incentive to drill in order to make over $11 billion in one quarter. And it just doesn't make sense. We should be using that money to invest in renewable resources, tax credit for wind and solar, etc. and invest in the technologies that will develop the battery and the rest, instead of giving Big Oil more profits.

King: Do you expect to get a big enough majority in the Senate and House for the Democrats to overcome anything and get through your proposals?

Pelosi: Well, I hope we can do some of it before we even leave this session. I think we can -- hopefully, we can do something before December. I will not subscribe to a hoax on the American people that if you drill offshore, you're going to bring down the price at the pump. Even the president says that's not true.

Ten years, two cents -- we're saying 10 days, bring down the price, if the president would free our oil from the Strategic Petroleum [Reserve] -- from our stockpile -- owned by the taxpayers, purchased by the taxpayers.

In the next election, I know that we will strengthen our majorities, increase their numbers, and we will have a Democratic president in the White House, and we will be able to address more fully really what I think is the challenge to our generation -- energy security and global warming.

All About Oil Production and RefiningNancy Pelosi

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