Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"First thoughts: Drill, baby, drill"

First Read (MSNBC):
Obama picks up the “drill, baby, drill” mantra (although with some important qualifications)… It’s a Nixon-goes-to-China-like moment for the president… From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** Drill, baby, drill: During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republicans of all stripes voiced this battle cry -- “Drill, baby, drill” -- to argue for offshore oil drilling as gas prices spiked to record levels. Then-candidate Barack Obama opposed it, however. (“Offshore drilling would not lower gas prices today,” he said. “It would not lower gas prices tomorrow. It would not lower gas prices this year. It would not lower gas prices five years from now. In fact, President Bush’s own Energy Department says we won’t see a drop of oil from [offshore drilling] until 2017.”) But now in what appears to be a Nixon-goes-to-China moment -- as well as a significant departure from the campaign -- President Obama will announce at 11:05 am ET new plans to drill for oil and natural gas off American coasts, the L.A. Times reports. But he will rule out drilling off the West Coast and the coasts above Delaware. “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.”

*** What say you, Sierra Club? The announcement is stunning for those of us who paid close attention to the presidential race. And it will be yet another test for Obama’s Democratic base -- in this case, environmentalists. As the New York Times writes, “But while Mr. Obama has staked out middle ground on other environmental matters -- supporting nuclear power, for example -- the sheer breadth of the offshore drilling decision will take some of his supporters aback.” That said, Obama floated this idea at his State of the Union address as perhaps a way to get Republicans to back a comprehensive energy bill. “To create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives,” he said in that January speech. “And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.” Of course, Obama isn't the first major Democrat to make this reversal on oil drilling. During the height of the last major gas price spike, Speaker Pelosi had to relent and allow legislation on oil drilling to go forward as many members of her own caucus wanted to support it. Still, this announcement will be a bitter birthday present for Al Gore, who turns 62 today.

1 comment:

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