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 article notes that Obama has "staked out middle ground" on the environment with support for other bipartisan, ahem, energy policy, such as expanding nuclear power, and did use the occasion of his State of the Union address in January to prepare people for his support for offshore drilling, but nonetheless "the sheer breadth of the offshore drilling decision will take some of his supporters aback."
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.
...[T]he Interior Department will spend several years conducting geologic and environmental studies along the rest of the southern and central Atlantic Seaboard. If a tract is deemed suitable for development, it is listed for sale in a competitive bidding system. The next lease sales — if any are authorized by the Interior Department — would not be held before 2012.
Unintentionally hilarious understatement FTW!
Given that Obama did campaign on an openness to an energy policy that incorporated conservative/corporate preferences, and has already conceded to expand both nuclear power and offshore drilling, Steve notes that the real mystery here is "the administration's negotiating tactics. ... Obama has already effectively given Republicans what they wanted on energy. What is he getting in return?"
Excellent question. And here's another one: What are we getting in return?
We, the people, are trading some measure of safety for nuclear power, and we are trading some measure of environmental security for offshore drilling—and potentially delaying indefinitely the sustainability that our current energy infrastructure lacks. We, the people, might be better served if those government contracts were offered, say, to people wanting to put wind turbines offshore, instead of drills, and people whose technology could update our crumbling energy infrastructure and turn the US into a global leader in green power.
Obama needs to be orchestrating the energy equivalent of packing us all into the Apollo 11 and shooting for the moon. But he's packing us all into the backseat of an Edsel and driving us to Poopsburg.
I've already been to Poopsburg! I wanna go to the moooooooooon!