Thursday, April 1, 2010

Drill Baby Drill (Obama Edition)

Not April Fools:
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.

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.

The Senate is expected to take up a climate bill in the next few weeks — the last chance to enact such legislation before midterm election concerns take over. Mr. Obama and his allies in the Senate have already made significant concessions on coal and nuclear power to try to win votes from Republicans and moderate Democrats. The new plan now grants one of the biggest items on the oil industry’s wish list — access to vast areas of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling.

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 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.
Offshore drilling, not really what you expect your Democratic president to be actively pursuing. I was under no illusions that Obama was going to be any kind of progressive when we elected him to office, but I didn't expect to be fighting him on shit like this.

Maryland, Delaware... well at least it isn't close to home. Let the oil companies poke around and see if they find anything, cause if there's anything they've taught us over the years it's that accidents never happen. I'm sure already cash strapped efforts that have fought so hard to preserve the Chesapeake Bay will love the exciting new challenges that this might bring!

There's no changing how horrifically bad this decision is (at one time Obama felt the same way), so we might as well look at the real reasons he'd do something this stupid. I think it's two fold, with each reason dumber than the last:

(1) Positioning himself as the David Broader president, as the last honest man standing between the right and left:
Ultimately, we need to move beyond the tired debates between right and left, between business leaders and environmentalists, between those who would claim drilling is a cure all and those who would claim it has no place. Because this issue is just too important to allow our progress to languish while we fight the same old battles over and over again.
You know who isn't tired of these age old debates between business leaders and environmentalists? I'm gonna guess it's the business leaders, because they've gotten just about every fucking thing they've wanted over the last ten years. If there was some grand debate about role of conservation during the Bush administration I'm pretty sure I missed it. I remember years of environmental regulations getting pillaged, trying to open up national parks for drilling and doing nothing about global warming, but maybe I'm forgetting something.

There's something admirable about how open Obama is about his triangulation. Clinton would try to talk a good game to all sides, and triangulate the policy decision, but not Obama. The man doesn't just use Clintonian Triangulation as a political strategy, he's made it the ethos of his presidency. Defending a decision like this by saying that "he's tired of left and right debates", and then taking a right wing position is pretty amazing. He simply doesn't care what his supporters think about anything he does, and why should he? A large number of his supporters will blindly buy his reasoning just because he said it, so he really has no reason to give a shit what they think on anything.

(2) He thinks doing this will help him win Republican support on worthwhile climate bill, and deprive them of their talking points. Marc Ambinder:
With one fell swoop, Obama deprives Republicans of the major talking point they’d use to object to more expansive government-based climate remediation and energy prospecting policy.
Fucking Madness. Anyone who believes that Republicans will stop trying to make Obama's climate bill worthless because he gave them a head start must have their head shoved so firmly up their own ass that they missed everything that happened over the last 14 months. Almost every major republican has already slammed it as not going far enough because get this: Obama did it, and they want to be elected in November.

Maybe Obama should just complete the ultimate 11 dimensional chess move and become a Republican. If Obama was adopting their Republican policies as a Republican president, that would really put them in a bind!

In all seriousness, if this was actually one of the political calculations that led to this decision, then we really need to reconsider how smart we all think Obama is. The distance between idealistic and naive isn't all that far apart to begin with, and every decision like this puts him further and further into the latter's camp.

Bad policy, bad politics, and a shit sandwich to everyone who helped get him elected because they wanted to end the Bush Era's environmental policies.

But it will make David Broader happy, so really, what else matters?


  1. more dead migratory birds. awesome, can't wait. i'm pretty sure that no amount of drilling is going to convince republicans that the anti-christ isn't currently inhabiting the white house with dogs and cats living together and other mass hysteria. with a house and senate majority there's no need for concessions like these.

    can local legislation do anything about offshore areas? or are they all pretty much fucked?

  2. Well, I guess that depends on the wording of the new law. If it explicitly says "you can drill here", we're probably fucked. If it instead just says that it's no longer illegal to drill there, Maryland could probably make it illegal again within Maryland. But then, how far offshore does "Maryland" extend?

  3. This is downright insulting. What the fuck is the point of campaigning for democratic candidates?

    Seriously, what a flaming asshole.

  4. So are they confident that everyone is just gonna run back to Obama in 2012 or something? Maybe he's trying to piss us off early and then use 2011 and 2012 to get back in our good graces? Maybe 2012 is going to be a landslide of epic proportions for whatever candidate the republicans field? All this crap raises so many questions.