President Barack Hussein Obama announced recently that he is opening up the restrictions on offshore drilling for oil and natural gas resources. This follows more than a year of his policies designed to imposed delays and outright bans on oil exploration and drilling. No doubt a surprise for many on the right, this announcement comes rather unexpectedly. But where does it come from and why? Before we can answer those questions, let’s take a look at Obama’s policies on this subject to date.
On February 4th, 2009, Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior announced that the Bureau of Land Management would withdraw leases that were offered on 77 parcels of U.S. public land. Granted these parcels of land were not offshore, but it shows a pattern of how this administration’s policy is one of limitation when it comes to energy independence. Just a scant 6 days later the Secretary of the Interior released another press release that this time did have to do with offshore drilling; specifically in the area of shale oil exploration:
“On Friday, January 16, its last business day in office, the Bush Administration proposed a new five year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing. The proposal was actually published in the Federal Register on January 21, the day after the new Administration took office.
The deadline for public comment that the Bush Administration established – March 23, 2009 – does not provide enough time for public review or for wise decisions on behalf of taxpayers, the Secretary said.
“The additional time we are providing will give states, stakeholders, and affected communities the opportunity to provide input on the future of our offshore areas,” he said. “The additional time will allow us to restore an orderly process to our offshore energy planning.”
What this does is not just extend the comment period on these leases by an additional 6 – 8 months; Salazar’s plan won’t even go into effect until 2012. Additionally, the Washington Examiner had this to say about this story:
“The Obama administration’s six-month delay in approving new offshore drilling leases in federal waters will become a new three-year ban, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar quietly told reporters last Friday. Which means that no new oil and gas leases will be approved during President Obama’s term even though two –thirds of the American public supports such activity, according to a December 2009 Rasmussen poll.
Sixty percent also believe that gas and oil prices will drop if the government allows offshore drilling, opening up an estimate 14 billion barrels of oil and 55 trillion cubic feet of natural gas
On July 14, 2008 President George W. Bush lifted an executive ban on Outer Continental Shelf leasing. On October 1, 2008, in a bipartisan agreement, Congress lifted another longstanding ban on new oil and gas leasing in the OCS.
Drilling was supposed to begin this July. But Salazar said he intends to discard the 2010-2015 lease plan developed by the Bush administration in favor of a new plan that won’t even go into effect until 2012.”
So, almost as soon as Obama took office, it was his administration’s policy to restrict domestic drilling for offshore oil and natural gas. Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey released a statement praising Salazar’s actions and it unbelievably contained the following:
“The Obama administration rightfully put the brakes on the Bush administration’s runaway drilling train. It is not in our nation’s long-term interest to fast track a five-year plan that focuses on drilling for fossil fuels off our coastline.”
Okay, now fast forward to the present and we have Obama saying that he is opening up new areas for exploration on the Continental shelf.
“President Obama announced new leases for offshore oil drilling today with an appeal to both environmental supporters and Republican critics, saying increased domestic oil production is part of an overall approach to the nation’s energy challenges.”
In remarks by Obama on this, while at Andrews Air Force Base, he said:
“Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth and produce jobs, and keep our businesses competitive, we are going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy.”
This would seem to fly in the face of what Congressman Pallone said. But does his new policy actually lift the ban on offshore oil and natural gas exploration and drilling? His plan seems to be more about restriction rather than exploration. His new plan includes:
- No drilling in the Pacific Ocean
- No drilling in a large portion of the Atlantic Ocean
- No drilling in significant portions of Alaska
- No drilling in some of the most promising areas of the Gulf of Mexico
In fact, even though this seems to be a positive thing for America’s energy outlook, none of this has been finalized and the drilling won’t begin until after 2012. Steve Early over at American Solutions summed it up nicely:
“The offering also comes with a hefty price: President Obama wants to force Americans to swallow a massive new energy tax before any state will reap the benefits from this new offshore drilling. The bill Mr. Obama urged Congress to pass last summer, the Waxman-Markey energy tax, would eviscerate the economy, killing more than one million jobs per year while raising the cost of energy for all Americans.
If an energy tax passes Congress this year, the negative impact on the economy will happen long before the first oil comes from these new offshore leases.
According to a study by the American Energy Alliance, offshore drilling has the potential to create millions of new American jobs and could provide more than $2 trillion in new government revenue at the local, state, and federal level.
By delaying offshore drilling for at least another two years, the President’s decision does nothing to allow us to begin reaping those benefits. Mr. Obama’s insistence on imposing a new tax on American energy also hamstrings any future job creation or new drilling revenues.”
Additionally, the Heritage Foundation chimes in on this by stating that Obama is basically using smoke and mirrors to push his leftist agenda.
“Part of the administration’s proposal is regressive in that it cancels some lease sales that were already pending. Offshore drilling will create jobs and increase energy supplies without cost to the taxpayer. It will create revenues for financially strapped state governments and increase revenues for federal governments. Unfortunately, we won’t realize many of these benefits because this decision was more about getting “drilling” in the headlines than in our nation’s waters.”
What we have here is Chicago style politics yet again. Obama wants to appeal to the “moderate” Republicans like Lindsey Graham and Olympia Snowe so that he can more easily get his Cap and Tax bill passed. So it would seem that the answer to the title of this article would be “No, the ‘O’ in Obama does not stand for oil, but instead for obfuscation.”