President Obama today agreed to open parts of the Atlantic coast, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and parts of the north shore of Alaska to offshore oil exploration. exploration. Offshore drilling could provide enough oil to replace Middle East oil imports for 35 years, and it would also yield an 18-year supply of natural gas. Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the former Chairman of the Resources Committee, responded immediately by criticizing the Obama plan:
The President is essentially placing a moratorium on the Pacific Coast, delaying planned lease sales in Alaska, and subjecting previously studied areas to even more study , which is a waste of taxpayer time and dollars. Additionally, anything open to leasing will also be open to the inevitable lawsuits that will follow today’s announcement, so essentially we are back where we started. Sixty-eight percent of the American people support expanded offshore drilling, and yet not one lease sale in an area previously under moratorium will occur during President Obama’s term. This plan closes more than it opens, and is a complete farce. There is no question that this ‘Obama Moratorium’ will have dire impacts on the economic future of our country.
That was then, this is now
In 2008, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) said offshore drilling was “a political stunt.” Speaker Pelosi called Bush “the oilman in the White House,” and said offshore drilling was “a hoax.” At the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said off shore drilling was a give away to big oil. She was adamantly opposed to offshore drilling “because I’m trying to save the planet,” and “my flagship issue” is global warming.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called it “a cynical campaign ploy that will do nothing to lower energy prices and represents another big giveaway to oil companies already making billions in profits.” Reid described offshore drilling as “the same old ideas meant to pad the pockets of Big Oil. . . Bush-McCain Republicans just don’t get it. . . They want to feed our addiction to oil.” All of that is forgotten now with President Obama’s announcement today. In addition to blocking off shore drilling, Democrats in the past have also blocked drilling in ANWR, building oil refineries, nuclear energy production and clean coal production.
Offshore drilling would have to be approved by Congress, and some prominent Democrats have today come out in opposition. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) both said they would oppose the Obama plan, and they are quoting the President.
In June 2008 the President said “Believe me, if I thought there was any evidence at all that drilling could save people money who are struggling to fill up their gas tanks by this summer or this year or even the next few years, I would consider it. But, it won’t.”
In a related development, the Department of Energy is saying world oil production could decline from 2011 to 2015 “if the investment is not there.” The decline would be due to the lack of investment in oil production capacity, which is another serious energy security issue.