Wow! Didn’t See that Coming

President Obama shocked just about everyone with his intention to lift the ban on offshore drilling along much of the East Coast, Alaska and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. But perhaps he’s doing something right. The New York Times offers some praise, tempered with an environmental admonition. Even in the reddest of the Red States, an editorial in The Daily Oklahoman has some good things to say about Obama’s plan, and executives in the reddest of Oklahoma’s industries are grudgingly optimistic.

No one, obviously, is entirely happy – the Left and environmentalist feel betrayed; many Repubs say he didn’t go far enough, chanting the predictable ‘too many taxes’ mantra.

Getting beyond the rhetoric, a rational assessment of the new policy must revolve around three questions:

Is it GOOD energy policy? Yes, it is good energy policy (and good economic and national security policy, too) provided that it supports, not substitutes for, an aggressive program to nurture and encourage non-fossil energy alternatives – wind, solar, bio-mass, etc, as well as nuclear. As I’ve argued before, the only practical route to a non-fossil energy future is through a prudent and responsible (and declining) use of natural gas, oil and coal.

Is it BAD environmental policy? No, probably not. Half a century of offshore drilling and production technology development have minimized the safety and environmental liabilities, and a half century of experience off the Texas and Louisiana coast has, on the whole, been good for residents, tourists and fishermen. And for those worried about the view, most of it will be too far offshore to see, the rest a faint structure on the edge of the horizon.

Is it good politics? Probably not, but the answer will depend on how successfully the Obama administration can sell the first two propositions. They’ll likely invoke the analogy of Pres Nixon opening up relations with Communist China 40 years ago. Obama’s problem is that, unlike Nixon (who had a long history of stringent anti-communism) he lacks a solid track record on the environment to cement his green credentials and protect his back with the Democratic base.

Bottom line – The new offshore drilling policy will be a clear winner, IF is part of a comprehensive, aggressive plan to transition from fossil fuels to greener energy sources. Stand-alone, however, it looks like a cynical (but not significantly detrimental) sellout to Big Oil politics.

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3 Responses to “Wow! Didn’t See that Coming”

  1. “Drill, baby …” Oops, Never Mind « The Alternative Energy Page Says:

    […] baby …” Oops, Never Mind By Bob Brothers Not long ago, I wrote – pretty favorably – about Pres Obama’s decision to open up some offshore areas to more drilling and petroleum development. I said then that decades […]

  2. Bob Brothers Says:

    nextinline ‘s comment reflects a sentiment that flows thru many of the comments I received – that the President’s announcement was short on policy substance and long on political cynicism.
    I’m withholding judgment until I see how drilling fits into a more comprehensive approach to a long trm energy policy.

  3. nextinline Says:

    this is a hoax as congress had already passed law opening this. In fact, Obama has restricted and limited space for drilling and furthermore has pushed out start date. Lots of sound and fury signifying nothing

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