s skippy the bush kangaroo: this is not good

skippy the bush kangaroo

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

this is not good

obama to open offshore areas to oil drilling for first time:
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.
matt yglesias has a good, comprehensive map of the proposed drilling areas. d-day, over @ fdl, wonders:
this is puzzling on a number of levels.

  • the la times refers to this as a bargaining chip in the climate bill debate, but i see it more like showing your cards before the end of the hand. why would you let republicans know about a pre-compromised offshore drilling regime, so that they can push for even more? this won’t garner one republican vote any more than compromising the health care bill garnered any republican votes. if this was the result of a negotiation, fine, but this comes before the negotiation.

  • this comes right at a time when core supporters were starting to get energized about the midterm elections and about the president’s performance. there is nobody in the democratic base who is particularly excited about “drill baby drill.” it’s true that the president actually noted support for it on the campaign trail, at the height of the drilling conversation, but the timing couldn’t be worse for this action. it’s especially galling that students have the most to lose from this plan, a day after obama signed a groundbreaking piece of legislation specifically aiding students.

  • nobody has been talking about this for close to two years. conservatives had moved on to other topics, and now this will come rushing back. and instead of crediting the president for basically handing them one of their issues, they’ll criticize him for exempting the west coast and the northeast.
either obama thinks the climate bill is dead and he’s handing out a couple of the goodies he already promised, or his team has assessed that these tracts won’t be cost-effective enough for oil companies to actually do the drilling, so it’s a low-cost hedge toward moderation. we know that oil companies have thousands of reserve contracts for on-shore drilling sites in the us that they haven’t and probably will not ever explore. they end up on company profiles as “future reserve sites” to prove the stability of their operations to investors. in the end, this may end up being a big giveaway to oil company balance sheets, without the environmental hazards.
and steve benen is also confused:
my confusion, then, is over the administration's negotiating tactics. in february, the president cleared the way for the first new u.s. nuclear power plants in more than 30 years. today, the president will reportedly open up new opportunities for coastal drilling.

in other words, obama has already effectively given republicans what they wanted on energy. what is he getting in return?
we must agree. just when the base has felt like dems can actually get their agenda on the road, obama has handed the repubbbs a give-away.
posted by skippy at 8:58 AM |


Bargaining chip. Obama is always playing another angle than you think. Always.

When they don't cooperate, he will have every reason to say, "Well, we tried", and then back off the offshore drilling.

And the promise of it pulls funding to Dems and away from Republicans. This is election strategy stuff. More going on here than you think...
commented by Blogger donna, 10:09 AM PDT  
He is not angling for Republicans, he is throwing a bone to the Blue Dogs and Conservadems.
commented by Blogger Bruce Webb, 11:26 AM PDT  
i've heard that theory, bruce & it makes sense to me.

but donna, i no longer subscribe to the "obama plays 11-dimensional chess while we all play checkers" theory.

it became clear during the hcr fiasco that obama talks the talk but it's pelosi that walks the walk.
commented by Blogger skippy, 12:01 PM PDT  
There's that socialist Obama again!
I'd say I'm disappointed, but I never thought Obama was a liberal.

But here's my question: Now that Obama has embraced drilling, will Republicans turn against it? :)
commented by Anonymous Mad Kane, 12:13 PM PDT  
And I'll spin my own spin from above.

It is a little sad that we have to read every move made by Obama through some political calculation and not consider that maybe, just maybe Obama is not doing this solely in the context of negotiating the Climate Bill but possibly has come to the judgement that it is in the national interest period?

I understand that people will reflexively disagree, but then again I understand why people in Nantucket oppose wind installations. But just because we can present an issue in environmental terms doesn't make that position automatically correct. An argument against plopping down more rigs off the breeding beaches of California's Channel Islands and right in the path of the Gray Whale Migration, or against drilling on land in ANWR is not necessarily valid when applied to a drilling rig forty miles off the coast of Georgia or in the Beaufort Sea, even though the FORM of the argument is identical.

I think liberals have simply been made gun-shy by eight years of Bushism, the idea that the Environmental Protection Agency exists to protect the environment or that the Mine Safety Bureau might have as its mission actual protection of miners having been lost in the Bush/Cheney years.

Obama is no down-the-line progressive and certainly has two many corporatists, too close. But that doesn't make him the same kind of lackey of the extractive industries as the past Administration. So in regards to some of these issues maybe we can take a leaf from Reagan's books: "Trust but verify". Because done right oil drilling rigs can actually be net contributers to the marine environment by establishing artificial reefs and fish sanctuaries, the trawlers that are busy vacuuming up the sea-floor in the Atlantic can't do so in an area of oil rigs,

Plus it is important to remember where we are still NOT drilling, which is to say ANWR. Even if you regard this as a sell-out it is not a total sell-out to the 'drill here, drill now, drill everywhere' folke.
commented by Blogger Bruce Webb, 9:31 AM PDT  

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