Thursday, April 01, 2010

Obama Announces Offshore Oil Drilling in Atlantic Waters

It was not a great day for proponents of clean energy. Barack Obama announced an expansion of offshore drilling to include areas off the Atlantic coast. The New York Times describes it as part of a political calculation:
In proposing a major expansion of offshore oil and gas development, President Obama set out to fashion a carefully balanced plan that would attract bipartisan support for climate and energy legislation while increasing production of domestic oil.
According to the News Journal, Delaware Audubon Society President Mark Martell
sees the political angle as well:
"Many Republicans have stated recently that they intend to go after other new Obama initiatives in this election cycle and the president is shrewd for putting an initiative in front of them that has traditionally been one of theirs," Martell said. "Unfortunately for environmentalists, this political decision is seen as a setback to pushing for renewable energy sources."
Governor Jack Markell was cautious in his response:
"Although we are still reviewing the details of this proposal, I have concerns with the adverse impact it may have on our environment and Delaware's important tourism industry," Markell said. "We are committed to working with the Obama administration to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil, but I believe the first priority for Delaware's coastline should be moving forward with offshore wind and seizing the potential jobs from this emerging industry."
Meanwhile, Talking Points Memo writes that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
is backing away from the cap and trade approach to climate change:
"I think the term 'cap and trade' is not in the lexicon anymore," Salazar said, adding that supporters -- including senators working on legislation -- will focus more on ideas such as slowing pollution, creating jobs and becoming energy independent. "It's in that context" the Senate will move forward, he said.
Don't look for gasoline prices to drop anytime soon. The first leases won't be auctioned for another year or two, and it may take a decade before new platforms start pumping. We whould be able to build thousands of megawatts of offshore wind power by then.

And as Joe Biden pointed out two years ago, 79 percent of the oil in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico is already available for extraction. We may not see that much more of an oil rush from yesterday's announcement.

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