The world of green has been working itself into a frenzy today on news that the Obama Administration is opening up offshore drilling off the east coast of the United States. President Obama announced the change in a speech on energy security.
"Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth and produce jobs and keep our businesses competitive, we're going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy," Obama said. "So today we're announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration -- but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America's natural resources."
No one is really happy with this one. Enviros are mad that Obama is going back on his earlier stance against offshore drilling. Republicans are mad because they don't think his plan goes far enough (they want to drill everywhere). Then again, I'm pretty sure that they'd be against anything Obama suggested just on general principle.
Me, I'm still not sure how exactly I feel about it.
One one hand I'm not happy about the idea of oil rigs dotting the seas off our coasts. There will be spills and accidents, it's not a matter of if but when on that count. Oil drilling is a messy business and we really should be focusing that time and energy on converting to renewable energy and do everything we can to speed the weaning from fossil fuel's oily breast.
On the other hand though, I'm pretty sure President Obama is a LOT smarter than me. I, like a lot of us, had some doubts about the President's ability to drive his agenda leading up to the House's passage of the Health Care Reform bill but then watched as he masterfully pivoted and not only passed the bill but also forced the Republicans to completely own their refusal to cooperate. They are firmly on the record against this bill and could be in long term electoral trouble once the recipients of the increased coverage start feeling the benefits. In a post that would ultimately force his resignation, conservative writer David Frum wrote this of health care reform: "Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s."
Energy policy is easily as big of an issue as health care is/was. There is a LOT of money lined up on the other side dedicated to keeping things exactly how they are- to keeping us dependent on fossil fuels to power our lives. Changing that system is not going to be easy.
I guess I'm willing to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt on offshore drilling. I don't like it, but if it's part of a journey to an overall cleaner energy policy, then I'll learn to live with it. If it's a small chit in the great poker game of life, I'm ok with Obama using it to gamble with the other side.
Unlike some of the more cynical of my greener friends, I don't think President Obama is abandoning his commitment to a cleaner, greener future- I just think getting to that future could be a hell of a lot harder than any of us realize. It's easy to howl about selling out from out here on the sidelines. I'm sure the view is a lot different looking up from under the trillion dollar energy industry.
Let's cut the man some slack. He might be up to something here.
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