‘This is all a phony issue,’ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said of the McCain-Bush offshore oil drilling proposal in an appearance last week on ‘Meet the Bloggers,’ a new online program by Brave New Foundation.

Responding to McCain campaign and congressional Republican claims that new offshore drilling is needed to counter rising gas prices, Reid pointed out, ‘It takes from 10 to 15 years. If they wanted to go offshore right now, any place in the world, [it would take] 10 to 15 years before they could get a drop of oil.’

Reid also emphasized that oil companies also hold current leases on public lands on and offshore which have gone unused. ‘They have 16 million acres they can drill on today,’ he said.

Supporters of new offshore drilling insist that new technology has eliminated accidental oil spills and other environmental and safety hazards associated with offshore drilling.

In response to recent claims by John McCain and other Republican politicians that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita resulted in no oil spills, Reid remarked: ‘I kept hoping it would be like the thing I read when I was a kid, Pinocchio. I expected to see all these big noses out there on the Senate floor, because these are outright fabrications.’

Reid added that along with new spills as a result of the storms, oil slicks in the Gulf have caught on fire.

The country has to be realistic and honest about new oil production, Reid said. ‘America has less than three percent of the oil in the world, counting ANWR and all that offshore stuff,’ Reid said. ‘We use 25 percent of the world’s oil everyday. You can’t produce your way out of the problem. Drilling won’t do it.’

Environmental and labor organizations also oppose new offshore drilling as the solution to America’s energy crisis. This past week, the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental organizations, circulated a .

‘We call upon the Congress to say no to coastal drilling in protected areas and yes to a comprehensive solution, a ‘New Apollo Program’ for America, that will invest in clean, renewable energy and homegrown fuels, and create millions of high-quality, green-collar jobs,’ the petition read.

To combat high gas prices, the federal government should open the Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR), groups like Americans United for Change (AUFC) and the Center for American Progress added.

McCain and the Republican’s ‘best answer to out-of-control oil prices is offshore drilling that wouldn’t yield a drop of new oil for 10 years. That’s not a solution – that’s a distraction advocated by the same big oil companies making record profits,’ said Caren Benjamin of AUFC.

Releasing oil from the SPR, ‘would also prick the speculative bubble that contributes to record prices,’ read a statement by Daniel J. Weiss, senior fellow and director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress. When past presidents ordered releasing oil from the SPR, prices fell from $5 to $10 per barrel, Weiss indicated.

On high gas prices, Weiss blamed George W. Bush, John McCain and their Republican allies in Congress and who have for years blocked immediate relief for high gas prices as well as long-term solutions such has higher fuel economy standards in vehicles that would have allowed drivers to use less gas.

Watch the video with Sen. Reid here: