[Guest post by DRJ]
Barack Obama announced he plans to open up millions of offshore acres to oil and gas drilling:
“President Obama took a gamble with the environment and his political base yesterday, opening up 167 million acres (67 million hectares) of coastal waters to oil drilling, in an attempt to limit America’s dependence on foreign energy and to win Republican backing for a stalled climate change Bill.
In a reversal of policies that have protected American shorelines since the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989, Mr Obama paved the way for a new energy rush off the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts by allowing exploratory drilling for trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and oil reserves that could exceed eight billion barrels.”
So what’s Obama doing? For one thing, he’s angered his environmental base and no matter what his supporters claim, he validated Sarah Palin’s “Drill, Baby, Drill.” (I think that proves Obama doesn’t see Palin as a 2012 opponent.)
Obama also undermined his June 2008 claim that drilling won’t help solve our energy problems and went back on his campaign promise not to allow offshore drilling:
OBAMA: “So let me just repeat. John McCain’s proposal, George Bush’s proposal, to drill off-shore here in Florida and other places around the country would not provide families with any relief — this year, next year, 5 years from now. Believe me, if I thought there was any evidence at all that drilling would save people money who are struggling to fill up their gas tanks by this summer or next year or even the next few years, I would consider it. But it won’t. *** When I’m President, I intend to keep in place the moratorium here in Florida and around the country that prevents oil companies from drilling off Florida’s coast.”
Like Johanna Neuman at the Top of the Ticket, I think Obama is laying the groundwork to peel off some GOP support for climate change legislation by repositioning himself on offshore drilling — something championed by McCain-Palin, not Obama-Biden. Given the Republicans’ reaction, I bet it will work.
UPDATE: In the comments, Beldar takes me to task (here and here) for describing Obama’s announcement as “Drill, Baby, Drill.” He makes a convincing argument that this is Obama’s typical empty rhetoric by which he bans drilling in Alaska’s Bristol Bay and issues vague promises to allow drilling elsewhere. My point is that if Americans think Obama is allowing drilling, it doesn’t matter whether he actually does or not.