Even the mainstream "news" media didn't know quite what to think of Obama's big announcement Wednesday that he would open new areas to offshore oil drilling. ABC's White House reporter Jake Tapper headlined his piece "Obama: Drill, Baby Drill" but you don't have to look far beneath the surface to see that while Obama opened new areas to drilling offshore from Virginia, he blocked large sections that the Bush Administration had previously approved for drilling and wants to "study" others that were ripe for exploitation.
Here are the charts from the Department of the Interior policy announcement. This is what Obama and the Dept. of Interior call a plan which "balances" America's energy needs with environmental concerns. If this is "balance" I don't want to be the one riding the teeter totter on the energy needs side:
Two new areas in green are o.k. for drilling. Area in red in Bristol Bay Alaska is now off limits. Areas in blue remain OFF LIMITS. Areas in yellow are for exploration, but no promises on when drilling could begin and certainly not within the next 2 years. Other previously approved areas for drilling in the Chucksi Sea off Alaska have been suspended. Environmental lawsuits are tying up already approved leases.
Obama's plan is a dramatic scale back of the Bush plan which opened up new areas for development for the first time. Billions of barrels remain locked away from recovery and use by Americans. Instead, we'll buy more from the Middle East and Venezuela. Tens of thousands of American jobs could be created and billions brought into the U.S. Treasury if Bush's plan were followed through.
In 2008 Obama dismissed [video] Bush's plan:
OBAMA:Offshore oil drilling would not lower gas prices today. It would not lower gas prices tomorrow. It would not lower gas prices next year. It would not lower gas prices five years from now.Not only will Obama's plan not add significantly to U.S. energy supply, but it will now take EVEN LONGER to get the oil we know exists out of the ground when, or perhaps if, Obama eventually approves drilling for it.
Meanwhile, around the world other nations are drilling offshore like never before. Russia will soon begin drilling in the Gulf of Mexico with leases from Cuba. Yet, Americans will still be blocked from drilling off Florida.
Stall, Baby Stall!
Sarah Palin, an expert on oil and gas, puts it best:
Many Americans fear that President Obama’s new energy proposal is once again “all talk and no real action,” this time in an effort to shore up fading support for the Democrats’ job-killing cap-and-trade (a.k.a. cap-and-tax) proposals. Behind the rhetoric lie new drilling bans and leasing delays; soon to follow are burdensome new environmental regulations. Instead of “drill, baby, drill,” the more you look into this the more you realize it’s “stall, baby, stall.”
Today the president said he’ll “consider potential areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, while studying and protecting sensitive areas in the Arctic.” As the former governor of one of America’s largest energy-producing states, a state oil and gas commissioner, and chair of the nation’s Interstate Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, I’ve seen plenty of such studies. What we need is action — action that results in the job growth and revenue that a robust drilling policy could provide. And let’s not forget that while Interior Department bureaucrats continue to hold up actual offshore drilling from taking place, Russia is moving full steam ahead on Arctic drilling, and China, Russia, and Venezuela are buying leases off the coast of Cuba.
As an Alaskan, I’m especially disheartened by the new ban on drilling in parts of the 49th state and the cancellation of lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. These areas contain rich oil and gas reserves whose development is key to our country’s energy security. As I told Secretary Salazar last April, “Arctic exploration and development is a slow, demanding process. Delays or major restrictions in accessing these resources for environmentally responsible development are not in the national interest or the interests of the State of Alaska.”
I’ve got to call it like I see it: The administration’s sudden interest in offshore drilling is little more than political posturing designed to gain support for job-killing energy legislation soon to come down the pike. I’m confident that GOP senators will not take the bait.
Next week I’m headed to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, where I look forward to discussing what “Drill, baby, drill” really means.