Obama Embraces Offshore Oil Drilling, But For What Purpose?

President Obama is proposing a major expansion of offshore oil drilling around the nation, as the LA Times reports, with the Pacific Coast states of Washington, Oregon, and California excluded from the new drilling:

President Obama will announce new plans to drill for oil and natural gas off America’s coasts Wednesday but will rule out drilling off California, Oregon and Washington state through 2017, administration officials say.

Obama’s plans will include opening new areas of coastal Virginia and other parts of the mid-Atlantic region, Alaska and the eastern Gulf of Mexico for drilling. But officials say the president will block drilling in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, where the George W. Bush administration’s drilling plans in 2007 angered environmentalists.

One obvious question that comes to mind is “why?” Offshore oil drilling is no solution to our country’s energy problems, as it would provide only a tiny fraction of the overall national demand for oil at a major environmental cost. Some reports have claimed that Obama is embracing this as part of a deal on the long-stalled climate bill, but Calitics alum David Dayen questions whether that would be sensible:

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.

RL Miller shares her thoughts at Daily Kos, pointing out that the federal government won’t see much in the way of new revenue and also questioning whether this will help with a climate bill that has already been stripped of the parts that would actually help the climate. She equates this policy to “fucking for virginity” which seems both an apt and descriptive way of putting it.

So what does this mean for us in California? It will likely increase pressure to open our coasts to drilling. If drilling supporters can point to new rigs off the coasts of the Southeast or Alaska and say that they haven’t (yet) caused any noticeable environmental damage, that will help wedge open the California coast to drilling.

Even if the CA coastal ban stays in place, John Myers of KQED’s Capital Notes argues this might help the Tranquillon Ridge project because it could more credibly claim to have a valid shutdown plan.

In any case, Obama’s embrace of drilling is a sad and depressing shift away from sensible policies to reduce carbon emissions and address global warming. While the health care reform bill was imperfect, it was at least a step in the right direction. The president’s climate and energy policies, however, are big steps in the wrong direction.

9 thoughts on “Obama Embraces Offshore Oil Drilling, But For What Purpose?”

  1. In 2008, when they were offered a choice between a a Republican and a radical extremist with ties to even more radical extremists, they chose the Republican.

    No fools we!

  2. It makes no sense to me to announce this right now.  But for an insider perspective, check out a post by Steve Benen over at Washington Monthly that makes this seem to be part of a bigger strategy (12-dimensional chess, I guess). Although I don’t know that I agree with it, it’s pretty hard to argue that you can actually count on Republicans to agree to bargain in good faith with Obama and the Democrats. One can easily envision Obama making an announcement that there is a “deal” on oil/nuclear for cap and trade, and then a few weeks later the GOP says “just kidding” about their end and goes on the attack.

  3. He wants votes for his energy measures and he’s putting the Republicans on the spot again. And to be clear, he never actually said no completely to offshore drilling. Offshore drilling isn’t going to generate energy independence, opening up these leases allows that to be seen and would lessen chances of California ever being opened up for drilling.

  4. This is not change we can believe in. This is not change at all. As a Huffington Post article pointed out yesterday, the “new” language that is supposed to prohibit insurance companies from dropping patients is nothing of the sort.

    Since I pointed this out several months and was told I was wrong by an HCAN strategist, OFA field directors, and a couple of highly placed California Democratic attorneys–it was gratifying to learn my reading skills are still intact.

    This is more of the same too. So, instead of change, we get more insurance loopholes. More war spending. More drilling. I shudder to think what’s next.

    However, I know one thing there will be less of. My support for politicians who fail to follow through on their promises will decrease apace.  

  5. Our esteemed president just can’t help himself.  Atrios has it about right:


    I don’t mind punching hippies if it actually achieves something, but I just don’t see that it does…

    Obama’s been doing this kind of nonsense since he started running for president in 2007, and clearly, the last year and half haven’t taught him to stop.  Yet.

  6.  It could be…

    Do you wanna take a chance on that and REALLY do you think where the Green movement was started we would bend down to oil companies even if they are HQ here (Chevron, Unocal and BP)?

    Let them drill off the coast of secessionist minded Texas.

    Notice his map is all along “Red State” territory…

    I think this is the opening salvo and Republicans are going to look mighty stupid (like they haven’t done that already) defending dirty power. Though most of the power east of the Mississippi is COAL power, its going to be hard to get them off that coal as they are heavily entrenched in the Conservative movement, thinking 17,000 jobs are more important than blasting off the tops of mountains in WV.


    Maria Cantwell’s idea makes a hell of lot more sense but of course anything smart never comes from a Government littered with idiot idea logs – http://cantwell.senate.gov/iss

    Thomas Frank talking about the “Idiots” in our Government –



Comments are closed.