Dare I ask it - should we look a gift jack-ass in the mouth?
What has possessed Obama to suddenly - and unexpectely - open up a small but respectable portion of our offshore areas to drilling? Because that is what he just did. This from the NYT:
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 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.
Under the plan, the coastline from New Jersey northward would remain closed to all oil and gas activity. So would the Pacific Coast, from Mexico to the Canadian border.
The environmentally sensitive Bristol Bay in southwestern Alaska would be protected and no drilling would be allowed under the plan, officials said. But large tracts in the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska — nearly 130 million acres — would be eligible for exploration and drilling after extensive studies.
The proposal is to be announced by President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Wednesday, but administration officials agreed to preview the details on the condition that they not be identified.
The proposal is intended to reduce dependence on oil imports, generate revenue from the sale of offshore leases . . . .
Lord knows, this is welcome news indeed. We likely have massive reserves off of our coast, over half of our trade deficit comes from the daily purchase of 70% of our oil needs from foreign suppliers, and the laws of supply and demand are still in play (though Pelosi made a valiant effort to repeal those laws in 2007), meaning that oil and gas prices will, if supply is not increased, rise substantially as we and the rest of the world recover from this recession.
There are criticisms. For one, it is a foregone conclusion that green organizations are circling the court houses as we speak, waiting to file their first among endless complaints under the various environmental acts to stop this all in its tracks. Unfortunately, Obama's announcement does nothing to indicate that he intends to lessen that burden. House Minority Leader John Boehner, at twitter, excoriates Obama for going nowhere near far enough in opening up areas to exploration. Moreover, it may well be that this new plan has some real devils in the details, such as allowing to states to ban drilling while refusing to allow states to share in revenues, thus giving states only downside risks that they would be insane to allow. If that turns out to be true, then this really will be a vast bit of smoke and mirrors from Obama.
But what about Obama's motivation to make this announcement now. There is no question that Obama just really upset his environmental base, so it certainly wasn't to keep his base happy. The move makes emininent sense from an economic perspective - so, assuming this is not smoke and mirrors, it may be a way of trying to change the national discourse and deflect some of the massive outrage against the left with Obamacare. Could this be, as Hot Air speculates. a way to try and grease the skids as a way to pass Obama's Cap & Trade plan? If so, Obama has given away perhaps his biggest bargaining chip - though there is nothing that could possibly justify voting for cap and trade under any scenario.
We will have to see how this one plays out. It seems positive news at this point, but time will tell.