President Obama wants energy independence for the U.S., and I’m with him. As long as it’s done in an environmentally responsible manner, I don’t see the problem with going after that goal. Why not try? And if at first you don’t succeed ...
When Obama was new to the presidency, he spoke about opening the waters off the U.S. East Coast to oil and gas exploration and drilling. This idea was proposed in the past, but those that had such an idea were told that it was impossible to get enough support from Congress to go forward with it. That didn’t stop Obama from trying.
Obama proposed opening up the Atlantic Ocean to drilling in March 2010. Then just three weeks later, that was put to rest when the Macondo well beneath the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 and causing the largest oil spill in U.S. history. His attempts to open the waters off the East Coast were quashed by Deepwater Horizon. The disaster was not caused by the president, but most of his critics decided to ignore that reality. Obama hated the offshore oil and gas industry, and he was labeled by the oil lobby as an anti-oil and gas president.
His reaction to the disaster, in the interest of safety, was to restructure the federal agency overseeing the issuance of drilling permits (the Minerals Management Service became the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement) and to lay down a new set of rules governing the application and drilling processes involved in offshore drilling. The overhaul took time, which didn’t sit well with those in the Gulf who were use to doing things the way they had been done in the past. Then the Gulf reopened and those same detractors made record profits until the price of oil went south recently.
Then a couple of years after Macondo, the administration gave the go ahead to explore the possibility of drilling for oil off the coast of Alaska. Another idea that had been floated in the past, only to be torpedoed by naysayers who claimed he could never get enough Congressional support. The environmental lobbies were too strong.
But late in 2012, Shell stumbled out of the gate when its towing vessel Aiviq left Dutch Harbor, Alaska, for Seattle with the drilling rig Kulluk in tow. Everything that could have gone wrong did. Eventually, even with the help of the Coast Guard and other rescue vessels, the Kulluk was intentionally released and ran aground on an island beach south of Kodiak on New Year’s Eve. That incident temporarily halted Shell’s plans for Arctic drilling.
Regardless of what anyone else says, Obama hasn’t given up on exploring for oil and gas off the East Coast or in the Arctic. The Obama administration announced this week that it would allow, conditionally, drilling for oil off the coast of Alaska. Meanwhile, two East Coast states, North Carolina and South Carolina, have federal permits that allow them to begin offshore seismic surveys ahead of drilling for oil and gas in the Atlantic.
When you look at his record, which includes overseeing one of the biggest increases in oil production in U.S. history, how can you say he is anti-oil? No, man, he’s pro energy independence, and this latest move makes it even harder to say Obama is anti-oil.