President Obama announced last week "the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration" -- but upon closer inspection, the President's decision actually locks up the vast majority of America's offshore energy resources, placing them off limits. As the Natural Resources Committee Republican staff pointed out in a release last week, "President Obama did not open new lands to offshore drilling -- all of these areas were already open for drilling once Congress and President Bush lifted the moratorium in 2008. Instead, President Obama yesterday announced what areas he would CLOSE to offshore drilling."
And Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) commented last week: "Keeping the Pacific Coast and Alaska, as well as the most promising resources off the Gulf of Mexico, under lock and key makes no sense at a time when gasoline prices are rising and Americans are asking "Where are the jobs?'"
Following are highlights from just some of the editorials and columns weighing in against the President's decision:
* "Perhaps it's better to put President Obama's offshore drilling proposal into context by noting where oil and natural gas exploration won't be allowed. We won't be drilling for energy independence in the richest deposits in the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the Atlantic Ocean is off limits. All of the Pacific Ocean remains restricted. Alaska? Retreat. Oh, we suppose we should be thankful for small wonders -- the president did open up some new areas for exploration -- but there's credible research to suggest the administration's 'expansion' actually will result in less net product." (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorial, 4/4/10)
* "The Bush plan had allowed leasing along the North Atlantic and Pacific coasts, but Mr. Obama is effectively reimposing the moratorium on those areas. The President will allow a study of drilling along the South Atlantic coast....Add all of this up and yesterday's proposal had the net effect of putting some 13 billion barrels of oil and 41 trillion cubic feet of gas under lock and key, in return for blessing a few leases already underway." (The Wall Street Journal editorial, 4/1/10)
* "The problem with Obama's decision is that it prevents far more of the OCS resources from being developed than it opens up. The Virginia decision is good, but Obama is only committing his Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to study the possibility of opening up the rest of Atlantic OCS areas from Maryland to Georgia. Worse, Obama has effectively removed from exploration and development of the vast OCS oil and natural gas resources off of the California coast and in areas of Alaska such as the Chukhai Bay." (Washington Examiner editorial, 4/2/10)
* "There is, of course, a way to bring in more tax money, and provide more oil: opening the California coast. We know from earlier operations that it has significantly more resources than the all the newly opened areas combined....This area, especially off Southern California, has an estimated 7.5 billion to 14 billion barrels of oil and 13 trillion to 24 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. It could probably generate as much revenue as the other newly released areas combined; the oil, not having to be piped from northern Alaska, would be cheaper to harvest. While California drilling is one of the third rails of American politics, the federal government forgoing at least $20 billion a year in taxes seems unwise." (Michael Lynch, The New York Times, 4/5/10)
* "America's confused energy policy got a little murkier this week through mixed signals from the White House, but Americans can be rest assured of one thing -- Washington's efforts will cost them more money. President Obama -- channeling Sarah Palin's "Drill Baby, Drill' philosophy -- announced he was opening areas of the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling. The move came less than three weeks after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters the Obama administration was extending to three years its original six-month ban on new offshore leases in federal waters." (Frank Beckmann, The Detroit News, 4/2/10)
* "Back when oil cost $140 per barrel, President George W. Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore oil drilling. Once elected, Obama quietly reinstated it. Since then, Obama's Interior Department has been doing just about everything it can to slow, hamper and prevent oil and gas exploration in the U.S. and offshore. There's no reason to believe the administration won't keep doing that. Besides, Obama's announcement actually bans more promising oil and gas reserves from exploration than it opens up: nothing in the Pacific, nothing in the western Gulf of Mexico, nothing in southern Alaska." (Jonah Goldberg, The Columbus Dispatch, 4/5/10)
* "President Obama this week offered the "Drill, Baby, Drill' crowd an olive twig when he announced that he would "consider potential areas for development [of oil and gas resources] in the mid-Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.' Confine yourself to one cheer. Large swathes of potentially productive lands remain off-limits. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., doesn't want any drilling off the West Coast, and the environmentalists are adamant that large parts of Alaska remain the preserve of caribou." (Irwin M. Stelzer, Washington Examiner,4/2/10)
* "That's why what happened today was a quarter of a loaf. I give the president credit for defying the religion of those ecology people in his movement, his side of the aisle, who would object to anything and who believe that any activity at all ought to be off the table. Nonetheless, what he did was really quite minimal. Yes, he opened up part of the Atlantic coast, a bit of the Gulf of Mexico. But the entire Pacific coast is shut down, the west [coast] of Alaska remains shut down, and the most important area, ANWR, the Arctic [National] Wildlife Refuge, which was shut down in the "90s in the Clinton years, remains shut. And this is an unbelievably rich source of oil." (Charles Krauthammer, Special Report with Bret Baier, 3/31/10)
* "Obama's plan would leave in place the coastal protections for California, Oregon and Washington -- three states, incidentally, that helped elect him in 2008 -- while allowing drilling to go forward along the southern Atlantic coast and in parts of the Gulf of Mexico." (The Los Angeles Times editorial, 4/2/10)