Thursday, April 1, 2010

Does Obama Really Want to Drill, Baby, Drill?

If you listen to the hoopla on network and cable news you might get that impression. A closer examination reveals there isn't a lot of immediate change in President Obama's position. Here is a NYT's report of the announced change.
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.

Opening up 167 million acres of ocean to drilling certainly sounds like a huge change in Obama's position. Less than a month ago, the Obama administration quietly killed new offshore drilling for the next three years by continuing a moratorium on new leases. Has President Obama really become concerned about America's energy costs and foreign dependency? What is the real effect of this change? Power Line has this analysis.
When you cut through the hoopla, here is what Obama's announcement added up to:

* Cancelled five lease sales off the Alaska coast that were planned over the next 2 years. One of the areas is estimated to hold up to 77 billion barrels of oil, or more than 3 times US reserves.

* A study of the southern Atlantic OCS, with the findings due back next leasing.

* Delayed a planned lease sale off Virginia until at least 2012.

It doesn't look like much of anything is going to happen until the next Presidential election cycle. By then, Obama will be a 'lame duck' or we will have a Republican President. If Obama is a 'lame duck,' he can flip-flop on the issue again without worrying about voter repercussions. If he loses, a Republican President will likely open up more areas for drilling anyway. Since this angered his base, why did President Obama make this announcement when it will have so little effect over the next two years? Raw politics is behind this move. New CAFE regulations raising average mileage to 35 miles per gallon by 2016 and costing consumers $1300 a vehicle are going into effect. The CAFE increases step-by-step starting next year. Also, President Obama is going to press for Senate passage of Cap and Trade. He needs a couple GOP Senators to break a likely filibuster. The potential of additional oil drilling is the carrot.

No comments: