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The Wall Street Journal - Biden Changes Tune, Opposes Offshore Drilling

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By Corey Dade

arack Obama didn't take running mate Joe Biden to the woodshed for his remarks Monday on offshore drilling, which broke from Obama's strong reservations to it. But Biden on Wednesday nonetheless offered a different opinion: "I'm against it."

Biden flatly told voters this afternoon that he opposes offshore drilling for oil and gas and lambasted companies for failing to tap many coastal sites they have already leased from the federal government.

"Let's say it makes sense to drill," he said.

"No!" the audience replied.

"It doesn't, I'm against it. But let's say it makes sense," Biden continued. "However, I want to remind you of one thing -- that oil off the Continental Shelf… Guess who owns that oil? You do. It is federal property owned by all the American people. It is not Exxon Mobile's property. It is not ARCO's property."

Biden also reminded the crowd that their state holds one of the most highly coveted areas for oil, off Florida's northwest shore in the Gulf of Mexico. Biden said companies are holding more than 72,000 leases and are capable of producing 50 million barrels of oil, but "they are not pumping. Why do you think?"

Biden stayed perfectly on message -- Obama's message. He pulled proposals to develop alternative energy sources directly from the Obama energy plan. He also said the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which holds more than 700 million barrels of oil, should be emptied into the retail market to lower gas prices. As a cost savings, he said, the reserve should be replaced with heavier oil, which is less expensive than current inventory of lighter, sweet crude.

"When Bill Clinton did that it, it drove down the price of oil and gasoline at the pump 18.7% just be releasing it. Why won't they do it?"

On Labor Day, however, Biden expressed his thoughts quite differently. "I'm not opposed to drilling," Biden said. He would only support drilling measures if Republican, who support offshore drilling assured their support for ending exports of U.S. oil; reducing the price of oil produced by U.S. companies below that of foreign oil; and increasing royalties that the U.S. government charges to drill.

Obama has not gone as far as Biden's previous position. He opposed drilling earlier this year but has since said he would consider a limited increase, as part of a broader energy plan that includes efforts to increase production of alternative power sources.

Obama campaign spokesman David Wade said on Wednesday that the running mates agree that "drilling is not a long-term answer" and "are open to a consensus position that actually achieves the gains we need in renewable energy, immediate help for consumers, and increased exploration."

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