Update 2 – 10:35 AM: Jon Sanders wonders: Is this really a concession?
Update 1 – 9:45 AM: According to this AP article, this is technically not a proposal but rather a policy shift and therefore will not be voted on by Congress. Still, the same rule for me applies: If this policy change is being done to win over the votes of moderates in the House and Senate on cap and tax, then I don’t support it. Moe Lane has more, and is highly skeptical as well.
The NYT reports on news that will surprise both conservatives and liberals alike:
WASHINGTON — 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 and help win political support for comprehensive energy and climate legislation.
Uh – with an emphasis on that last part. The upcoming cap and tax battle is close at hand, and with this being an election year, Obama and Democrat mis”leaders” in the House and Senate don’t want the political headaches and nightmares that came with the drawn out process of them trying to shove the trillion dollar ObamaCare “reform” plan down the throats of the American people, so they’re throwing a bone to “moderate” Republican and Democrat Senators and House reps in hopes of avoiding a prolonged battle and winning their votes on cap and tax. But will it work? More from the NYT:
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. And it is no sure thing that it will win support for a climate bill from undecided senators close to the oil industry, like Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, or Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana.
But even as Mr. Obama curries favors with pro-drilling interests, he risks a backlash from some coastal governors, senators and environmental advocates, who say that the relatively small amounts of oil to be gained in the offshore areas are not worth the environmental risks.
The eastern Gulf of Mexico tract that would be offered for lease is adjacent to an area that already contains thousands of wells and hundreds of drilling platforms. The eastern Gulf area is believed to contain as much as 3.5 billion barrels of oil and 17 trillion cubic feet of gas, the richest single tract that would be open to drilling under the Obama plan.
Drilling there has been strongly opposed by officials from both political parties in Alabama and Florida who fear damage to coastlines, fisheries, popular beaches and wildlife. Interior Department officials said no wells would be allowed within 125 miles of the Florida and Alabama coasts, making them invisible from shore.
Hmmm. Of course most of us like the prospect of expanding offshore drilling, but at the same time this concession could successfully end up buying the “yea” votes of moderates in the House and Senate on cap and tax, so count me out on supporting the administration’s soon-to-be-officially-announced position on offshore drilling just yet. We’re already getting ready to get hit with tax and premium increases across the board as a result of this administration’s radical agenda on healthcare, so if voting “yea” to expanding offshore drilling ends up being a means to an end on cap and tax for Obama and House and Senate Dems, no thanks.
What do you think?