This strikes me as a really, really bad idea:
The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time, officials said Tuesday.
The proposal — a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of affected states and many environmental organizations — would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean.
Here are the areas that will now be subject to frequent oil spills, especially during hurricane season:
“Offshore drilling would not lower gas prices today,” he said. “It would not lower gas prices tomorrow. It would not lower gas prices this year. It would not lower gas prices five years from now. In fact, President Bush’s own Energy Department says we won’t see a drop of oil from [offshore drilling] until 2017.”
This is a foolish move, both substantively and politically. Obama is either an exceptionally bad negotiator, or he actually believes in some truly awful policy ideas. Neither of these possibilities bodes well for environmental policy.
Prediction: This will pick up exactly zero Republican votes for climate legislation, and it may end up costing votes on the left. Remember, it was only about a week ago that 10 Democratic Senators warned Senator Kerry that they’ll oppose climate legislation that greatly expands offshore drilling. Obama’s announcement today virtually ensures that the emerging Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill will include provisions those Senators will have a hard time swallowing.
Other early reactions…
Obama inspired our generation to turn out to the polls, and he can do it again if he moves to actually inspire us. But youth across the South East have longer memories than this short-sighted political thinking. Under this proposal the first lease sales for drilling would be held in 2012, a year that Obama will be hoping to connect with us and convince us he stands for our interests. If young people don’t believe him, they aren’t going to be inspired to vote. That’s not change we can believe in.
The announcement is stunning for those of us who paid close attention to the presidential race. And it will be yet another test for Obama’s Democratic base — in this case, environmentalists.
I don’t understand this at all. Increased coastal drilling would be a small price to pay in exchange for actual congressional votes for an overall energy package that shifts us to a low-carbon economy over time. But any price is too high a price to pay in exchange for nothing at all. This isn’t the greatest environmental crime in human history, but it sure does seem like poor legislative strategy.
Who’d we elect again?
How’s that hopey changey stuff working out? I don’t know about for me, but I think there are going to be some drill happy Alaskans who feel better about it.
Just about every news org, reporting on the news that Obama will approve significant offshore drilling, used the headline: “Drill, baby drill.” Time to check you-know-who’s Facebook page…
Obama has already effectively given Republicans what they wanted on energy. What is he getting in return?
When it comes to energy, conservatives are crazy about two things: nuclear power and offshore drilling. Now Obama has agreed to both. But does he seriously think this will “help win political support for comprehensive energy and climate legislation”? Wouldn’t he be better off holding this stuff in reserve and negotiating it away in return for actual support, not just hoped-for support? What am I missing here?
Increasing the risks to the environment in an attempt to save the environment seems like a less than optimal strategy.
If Obama’s goal here is to win support for a climate bill, wouldn’t he have waited to use this leverage until negotiations in the Senate had actually begun in earnest?
But hey, at least it will make Republicans happy, right? Not just yet: Boehner Rebukes Obama Offshore Drilling Plan.
Is this President Obama’s clean energy plan or Palin’s drill baby drill campaign? While China and Germany are winning the clean energy race, this act furthers America’s addiction to oil. Expanding offshore drilling in areas that have been protected for decades threatens our oceans and the coastal communities that depend on them with devastating oil spills, more pollution and climate change.
The Sierra Club has now weighed in (also via email):
“We’re very disappointed to see important areas like the Arctic coast and the Mid and South Atlantic stay open to oil drilling.
“What we need is bold, decisive steps towards clean energy, like the new clean cars regulations announced this week–not more dirty, expensive offshore drilling.
“The oil industry already has access to drilling on millions of acres of America’s public lands and water. We don’t need to hand over our last protected pristine coastal areas just so oil companies can break more profit records.
“Drilling areas like the Arctic threatens marine life like whales and polar bears. Where there is offshore drilling, there is a constant danger of oil spills. One oil spill is all it takes to destroy a coastal tourism economy and the jobs that depend on it.
“Drilling our coasts will doing nothing to lower gas prices or create energy independence. It will only jeopardize beaches, marine life, and coastal tourist economies, all so the oil industry can make a short-term profit.
“President Obama has taken important steps to combat global warming pollution and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Our nation’s increasing investment in clean energy and efficiency measures make drilling in sensitive coastal areas even more unnecessary.
“There’s no reason to drill our coasts. We can achieve real energy independence and economic vitality by investing in clean energy like wind and solar and efficiency. This kind of power creates good, lasting American jobs and positions our nation to become a global leader in the new clean energy economy.”
Update — More reactions coming in…
The LA Times refers to this as a bargaining chip in the climate bill debate, but I see it more like showing your cards before the end of the hand. Why would you let Republicans know about a pre-compromised offshore drilling regime, so that they can push for even more? This won’t garner one Republican vote any more than compromising the health care bill garnered any Republican votes. If this was the result of a negotiation, fine, but this comes BEFORE the negotiation.
Amazing the politics of offshore oil drilling has shifted so dramatically that a Dem POTUS could do this w/little fear of enviro retribution.
This is a calculated and pragmatic political decision, mixing all the possible variables facing the President. It’s not progressive, but then Pres. Obama isn’t a progressive. If you thought he was you simply didn’t pay attention. Today’s decision is simply the energy version of what happened on health care.
Let me hazard a bit of a prediction here. Obama will open lots of new offshore drilling in the hopes of shaving off a few Republicans in the Senate. The Republicans won’t bite. Not remotely. By the time an energy bill is finally passed it will contain just about everything the Republicans want and nothing progressives care for. It won’t even be centrist. It will be right wing, corporatist Democrat pap. And the Republicans will hammer Obama endlessly, calling it socialism.
That’s change you can believe in!
Do people in the White House still think anyone from the “party of no” will support any Democratic proposal just because they cave in on Republican issues? They don’t even like this awful proposal and are already complaining about it. How many times do we need to see this story play out before someone wakes up?
Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future:
Vince Haley, vice president for policy at the conservative group American Solutions, said today’s announcement “is likely to be an attempt by Obama to seduce the public (into) believing that he will do something in the future on offshore drilling,” but amounts to little more than window-dressing.
“Obama is talking about lifting a nonexistent ban! Bush lifted the executive ban in July 2008, and Congress lifted the legislative ban in October 2008. There is no legal impediment to drilling now, except that the Obama administration refuses to offer leases. So the idea that this is a big concession in exchange for which Congress should jumpstart climate legislation is ridiculous. I’ll believe they are really allowing drilling when they actually offer leases. Also, the 50-mile restriction means he is actually ADDING a NEW moratorium on waters inside of 50 miles.”
“It’s long past time for this Administration to stop delaying American energy production off all our shores and start listening to the American people who want an “all of the above” strategy to produce more American energy and create more jobs,” the House GOP leader added. “Republicans are listening to the American people and have proposed a better solution – the American Energy Act – which will lower gas prices, increase American energy production, promote new clean and renewable sources of energy, and encourage greater efficiency and conservation.”
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