Obama Caves on Off-Shore Drilling

Saturday, August 2, 2008

With retail gasoline at $4.00 a gallon, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, on Friday reversed his previous position and said he would be willing to support limited additional offshore oil drilling if that’s what it takes to enact a comprehensive policy to foster fuel-efficient autos and develop alternate energy sources.

Shifting from his previous opposition to expanded offshore drilling, the Illinois senator told a Florida newspaper he could get behind a compromise with Republicans and oil companies to prevent gridlock over energy.

In recent weeks, Obama’s Republican rival, John McCain who earlier dropped his opposition to offshore drilling, has criticized Obama in stump speeches for clinging to his opposition to off-shore drilling. The polls indicate these attacks have helped McCain gain ground on Obama.

Obama said in an interview with the Palm Beach Post:

“My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices. If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage. I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.”

Earlier in the day, Obama pushed for a windfall profits tax to fund $1,000 emergency rebate checks for consumers besieged by high energy costs, a counter to McCain’s call for more offshore drilling.

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22 Responses to Obama Caves on Off-Shore Drilling

  1. feminazi says:

    I disagree with your characterization that Obama “caved” on off-shore drilling. I call it an adjustment. You are correct — gas is $4 a gallon, higher in many areas and people are hurting because of it. The polls show as many as 70% of Americans want off-shore drilling to be free of OPEC. Obama is no fool. He had to adjust his position of risk losing the election to McCain.

  2. TOM339 says:

    I think feminazi is correct.

    The term “caves” is too harsh. I like “adjustment” better and suggests to me that Barack Obama isn’t just a typical Washington politician but is a man who is able to listen the people and respond to them when they tell him what they want.

    I don’t pretend to have all of the answers when it comes to the oil crisis but this much I do know. When T. Bone Pickens says oil profits represent the largest transfer of money out of the American consumer’s pocket and into an industry, he is correct.

    Big Oil is literally bleeding this nation dry and if something isn’t done to force this industry to use a portion of their profits to rebuild the refineries damaged by Hurricane Katrina and invest in alternate fuel, the USA is going to go the way of Argentina.

  3. Brigadoon says:

    Do you guys know Brazil, with a population of 170 million people, uses zero fossil fuel? Yep, Brazil made the decision 20 years ago to only build cars that use bio fuels like ethanol from corn. OPEC and the towel heads in their palaces, have no control over Brazil or its citizens. Why can’t the U.S. do this?

  4. Hadrian says:

    The fact is, there hasn’t been a new oil refinery built in America since 1976. Refineries are working at capacity and as Tom339 correctly points out, refineries were further limited after Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf of Mexico.

    A combination of tight environmental restrictions, NIMBY community opposition and the high cost of new construction has been an impediment to additional capacity.

    A new refinery costs about $3 billion. Big Oil can easily fund the construction of new refineries from their historic profits. EXXON-Mobil reported an $11 billion quarterly profit. The question Americans should be asking is, why don’t they build new refineries?

    My point is, you can go ahead and build new off-shore drilling facilities from Seattle to San Diego, and from Boston to Miami, but what will you do with it? The petroleum that comes from the ground still needs to be refined before it ever reaches the retail gas market.

    I don’t hear either candidate for president address the issue of limited refining. Why is this?

  5. Adirondacky says:

    I don’t understand why we’re selling U.S. corn for ethanol production. American and Japanese cars don’t run on ethanol so what is the point? I would gladly spend to convert my SUV to ethanol if I knew how and the bio fuel were widely available and cheaper than fossil fuel. This entire issue is simply too complicated for me.

  6. Estacada says:

    What is it about the American people that see change as weakness? Obama obviously heard the pleas of the American people and he responded.

    This isn’t a “cave.” It’s a response.

  7. Afrit007 says:

    I’m a bit disappointed, but not surprised. Obama is, after all, a politician, and the politician that does not respond to the will of the people does not stand a chance of being elected by them.

    He didn’t push for unrestrained drilling the way Bush & Bush III have; he hasn’t abandoned the principle of environmental responsibility. He’s simply adjusted his position in response to the changing battlefield.

    As disappointing as it is, it’s what he had to do in order to maintain the image of the responsive, responsible leader.

  8. Mauigirl says:

    I was worried when I saw him shift his position on this but when I read the article more carefully, it seems as if he is just following his usual method of listening, and trying to find a win-win situation for the common good. It did say “limited” offshore drilling was what he was talking about.

    The calls for ethanol from corn are not any improvement whatsoever. Brazil is tearing down the rain forests to grow corn (and sugar cane?) for ethanol, which is worse for the environment than anything. And the cost of food is skyrocketing because corn is used in many food products and now is being diverted to fuel. Ethanol is not a solution, but it’s the only alternative we have right now to oil.

    The real solution is a longer term one that has not yet been perfected. Hydrogen cells or whatever.

  9. Gryphen says:

    The problem with the right wing and their acolytes in the news media is that every time Obama demonstrates the kind of thoughtful, fair minded compromises that help to move legislation forward they jump on him as a “flip-flopper”.

    It is as if the rigid, uncompromising, arrogant style embodied by George Bush has suddenly become the very definition of “presidential”.

    It is not.

  10. Argh!!!! What the hell is he doing?!!! Just because McCain pushes a little, he is going back on every little policy and position he has!

  11. fairlane says:

    Why is it that every time there’s a “Compromise” it always involves moving to the Right?

    Obama did cave. He knows offshore drilling will do nothing to solve the problem. It will cost billions of dollars, which we’ll pay for with subsidies, it will take years before the oil reaches the market, it will make little to no difference in the cost of gasoline, and it does nothing to address our addiction to fossil fuels.

    It’s equivalent to saying, “I’m getting off drugs,” by switching dealers.

    Ethanol is a waste. The process to make it pollutes, as Mauigirl points out, and it is extremely inefficient. Most of the energy generated by burning ethanol is wasted as heat.

    Corn is a useless food product, with virtually no nutritional value (Not to mention Corn Syrup is a major culprit in our Obesity Epidemic), but, hey, let’s give the Factory Farmers even more of our tax money. After all, what’s a few more billion dollars?

  12. enigma4ever says:

    I too don’t know enough…I was dissappointed…but I also have heard that there is permits for offhshore Drilling that some companies have not accessed and had not planned to use for american use or supplies- so maybe we need to know or learn more about that….( and the MSM will never tell us of course). But the MAIN thing is that this is being peddled by the hour as a solution- and it isn’t…Brigadoon above mentioned other countries are using biofuels- like sugar cane and WHY aren’t we exploring such an option….???

  13. Robster says:

    The key word is “limited”. How limited are we talking about?

    If we allow a little bit of drilling on existing land Big Oil owns in exchange for pushing alternative energy, I’d go along with it.

  14. Dick Small says:

    I’m all for off-shore drilling. If we can get our own supply of oil at home, instead of relying on the Saudis or any of our other “friends”, I say do it.

  15. Aunt Peg says:

    I applaud Obama for recognizing we have a serious problem with high oil prices and if one solution is increasing limited off-shore drilling, then I’m all for it.

    In a perfect world, I guess our cars will all run on electric batteries, with no environmental harm but the fact is, we’re not there yet. Maybe in a 5 years or 10 years, but not today.

  16. Harry says:

    It’s difficult to turn a deaf ear to 70% of the American people. I know the pro-Iraq war lawmakers could do this but not Obama.

  17. fran says:

    I heard the pundits talking about this in PBS last night… the general population seems to have adopted burning fossil fuel as necessary & inevitable. Wake the f**k up people! This country is a good 20 years behind the times. The technology to convert to alternate sources is out there & has been suppressed. Big oil & the auto lobby have been in bed together, working in cahoots to keep oil the primary fuel, and gas guzzlers the mainstream norm.
    I don’t like these trends with Obama changing shift on big issues. The experts say there is not enough oil to make it worthwhile– but there is a large oceanic ecosystem that is already struggling with dead zones, and massive oil spill disasters of various types.
    Oh & I have to share this clip from the LA Times:
    “West Coast governors urged the federal government Tuesday to keep new oil drilling rigs out of their waters and to spend more money on programs to restore the health of the Pacific Ocean.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, joined with Democratic Govs. Ted Kulongoski of Oregon and Chris Gregoire of Washington to reaffirm their opposition to opening undersea oil fields to new drilling, as part of an elaborate action plan for preserving coastal waters.

    The 116-page document outlines ambitious goals for cleaning up coastal waters and beaches, restoring fisheries, preparing for rising sea levels and developing projects that harness energy from waves and tides, among other topics.

    “We are united ecologically, and now we are also united politically with Democrats and Republicans here working together and with one powerful voice,” said Schwarzenegger, flanked by images of the two other governors beamed in via satellite.”

    Even Aaaahrrrhhnold knows better….
    Do we have to send HIM to kick Obama’s ass?

    This is a complex issue– it not just about oil for cars– it is an environmental double whammy… keeping the country stalled in the fossil fuel addiction (ozone/global warming), and the ecological folly of drilling in an already struggling Ocean environment.

    We really need to think outside the box on this one, and a leader who can take a firm stand. We’ve seen enough spinelessness from congress to last a lifetime.

    What is Obama thinking?
    Is Doonesbury going to have to depict Obama as a walking Waffle?
    Or a windsock?
    Whichever way the wind blows?

  18. RainBro says:

    The whole “gas price-hike” was planned by the oil industry to secure the passing of the off-shore drilling package. The American People have been duped once again by the corporate powers that be.

    With this we are one step closer to the absolute fascist state that will be manifest in the North American Union. We’ll all be spending our “ameros” soon at the pump.

    The money they are spending on this needless drilling would be better spent developing a renewable resource like hemp which would give the economy an instant growth boom overnight.

  19. Kurt says:

    So Obama is “caving in” because he accepted the plan from the Gang of Ten? What, is there no room for compromise on any aspect in the political spectrum?
    Look, Obama promised to be a new kind of politician. He sets out with what would be, in his mind, the perfect position on an issue. He decides how far he will go beyond that point. Then he sees if there’s any way to get an acceptable compromise.
    This is a perfect example of how he would take the lead, and actually get things done in Washington.

  20. woyoyo says:

    I think South Dakota residents voted to open up oil drilling in a remote area of the state where large deposits of petroleum are thought to exist.

    All I know is we must break free of our dependence on foreign oil.

  21. libhomo says:

    This definitely is a cave by Obama. The word “adjustment” is merely a euphemism for “cave.”

    Media coverage of this issue should include detailed reporting of oil company contributions to the campaigns of politicians who support offshore drilling, something that will have zero effect on gas prices.

  22. libhomo says:

    Kurt said: “This is a perfect example of how he would take the lead, and actually get things done in Washington.”

    That’s what scares me so much.

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