While media outlets herald Obama’s sudden bipartisanship and interest in offshore drilling the truth is his new announcement doesn’t do anything except close off areas that we were previously drilling in.
The Obama administration’s plan adopts some drilling proposals floated by President George W. Bush near the end of his tenure, including opening much of the Atlantic and Arctic Coasts. Those proposals were challenged in court on environmental grounds and set aside by President Obama shortly after he took office.
The first lease sale off the coast of Virginia could occur as early as next year in a triangular tract 50 miles off the coast that had already been approved for development but was held up by a court challenge and additional Interior Department review, officials said.
But as a result of the Obama decision, the Interior Department will spend several years conducting geologic and environmental studies along the rest of the southern and central Atlantic Seaboard. If a tract is deemed suitable for development, it is listed for sale in a competitive bidding system. The next lease sales — if any are authorized by the Interior Department — would not be held before 2012.
the Houston Chronicle Reports
“It appears the Northern Atlantic and entire Pacific Coast will now be under a de facto ban” for drilling, said Patrick Creighton, a spokesman for the Institute for Energy Research, an industry-funded group. Even if drilling is ultimately allowed in part of the Atlantic, Creighton said, revenue sharing is an essential incentive for states.
The administration’s plans could meet resistance from at least 10 Senate Democrats representing coastal and Great Lakes states who last week raised concerns about “unfettered access to oil and gas drilling” that could jeopardize fishing, tourism and military exercises.
The Interior Department retooled the current schedule of offshore leases governing 2007 through 2012 after a federal appeals court last April ruled that the second Bush administration had not done a sufficient environmental review of expanded drilling off the Alaskan coast.
Salazar had said he was readying a second blueprint for leasing from July 1, 2012 until 2017 — a decision that meant scrapping a Bush-era plan that would have OK’d leases on Pacific and Atlantic waters where no drilling has been allowed for decades.
And Rep. Mike Pence had this to say…
“As usual the devil is in the details. Only in Washington, D.C., can you ban more areas to oil and gas exploration than you open up, delay the date of your new leases and claim you’re going to increase production.
“The President’s announcement today is a smokescreen. It will almost certainly delay any new offshore exploration until at least 2012 and include only a fraction of the offshore resources that the previous Administration included in its plan.
“Unfortunately, this is yet another feeble attempt to gain votes for the President’s national energy tax bill that is languishing in the Senate. At the end of the day this Administration’s energy plan is simple: increase the cost of energy on every family in America and trade American jobs oversees at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work.”
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