Apparently, with gas prices over $4 a gallon, the "demonize domestic oil companies" strategy isn't polling too well for Obama, nor is the utterly bull**** argument that increasing the amount of oil drilled domestically would not effect the price of gas and oil. Thus, Obama has had another poll driven epiphany, announcing in his Weekly Radio Address that, while big oil is still evil for making profits, he, Obama, will take some steps to allow more drilling.
As I discussed here, Obama is at war with our domestic oil and gas industry. In just two years, he has cut almost in half the acerage on which our domestic oil industry can explore and drill. Likewise, he has cut almost in half the number of permits for drilling and exploration. Part of this has been the "permitorium" that Obama has placed on drilling in the Gulf - the same one that has seen an exodus of rigs from the Gulf of Mexico, and with them, thousands of American jobs.
The Republican response to this was to pass the American Energy Initiative - a series of three bills designed to force the administration to allow new exploration and drilling. Specifically:
• The Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act (H.R. 1229) would end the Obama Administration’s de facto moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico in a safe, responsible, transparent manner by setting firm time-lines for considering permits to drill, which provide certainty and allow employers and workers to get back on the job. Passed the House of Representatives on 5/11/2011 with a bipartisan vote of 263 to 163.
• The Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act (H.R. 1230) would require the Obama Administration to move forward promptly to conduct offshore lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Virginia that the Obama Administration has delayed or canceled. Passed the House of Representatives on 5/5/2011 with a bipartisan vote of 266 to 149.
• The Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act (H.R. 1231) would lift the President’s ban on new offshore drilling by requiring the Administration to move forward in the 2012-2017 lease plan with energy production in areas containing the most oil and natural gas resources. Passed the House of Representatives on 5/12/2011 with a bipartisan vote of 243 to 179.
Obama, feeling the heat, responded in his Weekly Radio Address. Much of what he said was a rehash of the same old snakeoil:
1. He reiterates his claim that "gougers" and "market manipulators" may be somehow responsible for high gas prices - rather than supply, demand, and the insane left wing wars on the value of the dollar and every facet of our energy industry.
2. Obama is still demonizing the oil industry for making profits. And he still wants to treat them as pariahs by singling out the oil industry for unfavorable tax treatment among all U.S. manufacturers.
3. Obama continues his fantasy of reducing our oil usage by wasting billions of our tax dollars on real subsidies for solar and wind, two fuel sources that are grossly inefficient, unable to compete economically with oil or coal, and which together account for less than 1% of our annual energy usage.
4. The only change Obama announced was a series of vague promises to allow for more exploration and drilling. Specifically, he stated:
[W]e should increase safe and responsible oil production here at home. Last year, America’s oil production reached its highest level since 2003. But I believe that we should expand oil production in America – even as we increase safety and environmental standards.
To do this, I am directing the Department of Interior to conduct annual lease sales in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, while respecting sensitive areas, and to speed up the evaluation of oil and gas resources in the mid and south Atlantic. We plan to lease new areas in the Gulf of Mexico as well, and work to create new incentives for industry to develop their unused leases both on and offshore.
We’re also taking steps to give companies time to meet higher safety standards when it comes to exploration and drilling. That’s why my Administration is extending drilling leases in areas of the Gulf that were impacted by the temporary moratorium, as well as certain areas off the coast of Alaska. And to streamline that permitting process, I am establishing a new team to coordinate work on Alaska drilling permits.
Whether anything Obama said in his speech actually translates into anything of substance is a very open question. In any event, he clearly does not go anywhere near as far as the Republicans propose in the American Energy Initiative, as Rep. Doc Hastings makes clear in his response to Obama's Weekly Radio Address:
In the last week, House Republicans passed three bipartisan bills that will create 1.2 million jobs, triple American offshore oil production and generate $840 million in revenue - real action to produce real American energy. It’s ironic that while the White House and Congressional Democrats strongly criticized these efforts, President Obama is now taking tiny baby steps in our direction. The President is finally admitting what Republicans have known all along - that increasing the supply of American energy will help lower prices and create jobs. One weekend address announcing minor policy tinkering, while positive, does not erase the Administration’s long job-destroying record of locking-up America’s energy resources.
With Reid in charge of the Senate and Obama in the White House, the Republican legislation, no matter how badly needed, is going nowhere. But at least it appears to be putting a lot of pressure on Obama. Let's see if anything of any substance comes out of it.