Saturday, May 14, 2011
Facing voter rage over record high gas prices and complaints from Republicans and business leaders that his administration is preventing new development of domestic energy resources, President Obama conceded the GOP’s argument and announced Saturday that he is opening huge public lands and waters to gas drilling.
Call the president T. Boone Obama.
With gas prices above $4 a gallon in many states and inflation on the rise, Obama said his administration would begin to hold annual auctions for oil and gas leases in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, a pristine 23-million-acre tract on the North Slope of Alaska. The move is sure to thrill Alaska’s two senators, Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, and Mark Begich, a Democrat, as well as oil executives.
Mr. Obama also said he would extend leases already granted for oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico — these leases were frozen since last year’s BP/Deepwater Horizon disaster. The extension will allow companies time to meet new safety standards designed to prevent a repeat of the worst environmental catastrophe in our nation’s history.
In the Saturday announcement, Mr. Obama still managed to squeak out a mention of the outrageous $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies the oil companies receive saying,
“In the last few months, the biggest oil companies made about $4 billion in profits each week and yet, they get $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies each year. Four billion dollars at a time when Americans can barely fill up their tanks. Four billion dollars at a time when we’re trying to reduce our deficit.”
However, President Obama made no mention of making participation in the new oil and gas leases in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve contingent upon the oil companies agreeing to forgo their taxpayer-funded subsidies. Of course, this would require courage and leadership — both in short supply in the Obama administration.