Obama Policy Shift on Offshore Drilling

In Economy, Environment, Obama on March 31, 2010 at 9:31 am

Drill, baby, Drill!

The New York Times reports:

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.

Hold the celebration for a bit, though. Opening more coastline to oil exploration is something that Obama promised during his campaign and brought up again during his state of the union address. However, as with anything the Obama administration does, this will surely come with a catch. Further on in the NYT article, the catch may have appeared:

The Senate is expected to take up a climate bill in the next few weeks — the last chance to enact such legislation before midterm election concerns take over. Mr. Obama and his allies in the Senate have already made significant concessions on coal and nuclear power to try to win votes from Republicans and moderate Democrats. The new plan now grants one of the biggest items on the oil industry’s wish list — access to vast areas of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling.

Sister Toldjah‘s take:

The upcoming cap and tax battle is close at hand, and with this being an election year, Obama and Democrat mis”leaders” in the House and Senate don’t want the political headaches and nightmares that came with the drawn out process of them trying to shove the trillion dollar ObamaCare “reform” plan down the throats of the American people, so they’re throwing a bone to “moderate” Republican and Democrat Senators and House reps in hopes of avoiding a prolonged battle and winning their votes on cap and tax

While this move may anger Obama’s pro-environment, “green-er” base, it’s a move that he can afford. It’s the base after all, where else are they going to go? In the mean time, he can build capital with the moderates and allow Democrats to repair some of the damage done by the health care reform process.

Doug Powers predicts

…that new drill sites will end up being like Obama’s sudden embrace of building nuclear power plants — and that is to construct them as sweetheart deals for big labor, but never really use them.

This as-for-now merely symbolic lurch to the middle can also be taken as a sign that Obama knows Democrats are in serious trouble in the upcoming election, as well as in 2012.

The potential for emptiness in this gesture is significant. Any leases in the newly opened areas are subject to approval by the Department of the Interior after environmental and geological studies. None of these studies will be available until after 2012, allowing the administration to maintain the illusion until conveniently after the next presidential election.

I’ll let Moe Lane at Red State take it home because he sums it up nicely:

Let me put it another way: the White House is implying the promise of jam tomorrow – in reality, it’s just a study to revisit the denial of jam yesterday – in exchange for jam today. Only the jam today is actually a swarm of angry wasps.  Try again, Mr. President.  Start with rescinding your interference with the Bush drilling permits, and expect to give up more.  A lot more: your opponents are not interested in indulging the Greenies’ quaint, somewhat primitive religious sensibilities.

h/t memeorandum


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