The NYT has an editorial today critiquing the “Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act” the Senate is set to debate today.

The bill’s stated purpose is to reduce fuel prices. But while the gulf may hold enough natural gas to affect the price of that commodity, the same cannot be said of oil. No matter where it looks, a country that consumes one-quarter of the world’s oil supply while holding only 3 percent of the reserves will never be able to drill its way to lower oil prices, much less oil independence.

There’s some opposition within the Senate:

A small bipartisan group of senators — led by Richard Lugar, a Republican, and Jeff Bingaman and Barack Obama, both Democrats — will try to correct the bill’s bias toward production by adding an amendment that would improve fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks.

But it seems unlikely to make a difference:

The amendment has been carefully drawn to satisfy objections from the automakers and thus end the sterile impasse over fuel standards. But so great is Congress’s appetite for the quick fix that neither this nor any other amendment that seeks a more rational approach is likely to see the light of day.

The NYT is right to debunk this bill’s ability to affect gas prices. Leveraging high gas prices to push this legislation through is misleading. To understand how far from reality our senators are, and how desperately they want the public to think they are getting tough about energy, you have to check out their quotes in support of this bill from a press release from the Senate Energy and Resources Committee.

Choice tidbits follow…

Chairman Domenici (R-N.M.):

Every time the price of oil has climbed to a new high, I have intensified my efforts to do this bill. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their hard work in crafting with me a bill that protects our environment while bringing enough oil and gas to market to ease supply constraints and stabilize energy prices.

Senator Hutchison (R-Texas):

This legislation will provide critical access to domestic energy supplies and help consumers with the price of oil and gas.

Senator McConnell (R-Ky.):

America needs to reduce its dependency on foreign sources of oil and this bipartisan legislation does that. This agreement provides for a substantial increase to America’s domestic energy supply, and strengthens our national and economic security.

And my personal favorite, Senator Sessions (R-Ala.):

There’s nothing we can do this year that would have more impact in helping us to contain the price of gasoline and natural gas than passing this bill. When we buy our energy from abroad, we transfer our wealth to those foreign countries, many of which are not our allies and are not friendly to the United States. This legislation will keep that wealth at home, creating American jobs and revenues for the American treasury.