Obama caves in to big oil

It is easy to be disappointed with Barack Obama's recent reversal on the acceptability of new offshore drilling. But unless this is your first presidential election, then you shouldn't be too surprised. Fans of any candidate have to be prepared for a long list of compromises as the November vote approaches and the two sides do what they think they have to do to win over those who don't share their core principles. But I am disappointed nevertheless. Especially as Obama seems to have given his energy policies a fair bit of thought.

The fact remains that no new offshore oil will be available for years, and as Elizabeth Kolbert writes in the New Yorker:

A D.O.E. report issued last year predicted that it would take two decades for drilling in restricted areas to have a noticeable effect on domestic production, and that, even then, "because oil prices are determined on the international market," the impact on fuel costs would be "insignificant."

And by then, if we haven't reduced demand for petroleum products to a tiny fraction of today's level, then we're all doomed to really hot summers. So what Obama or McCain, for that matter, says is an acceptable way to drill for oil on the continental shelf is really a distraction. More worrisome is Obama's other oil industry reversal today:

Barack Obama proposed on Monday tapping the strategic oil reserve to help lower gas prices, a reversal of an earlier stance.... In a Michigan speech, he proposed releasing 70 million barrels of light oil, easier to refine into gasoline, from the emergency U.S. stockpile.(Reuters, Aug. 4)

This kind of thinking is simply not compatible with a responsible energy strategy that discourages consumption of fossil fuels and promotes clean alternatives. Releasing SPR oil will not "Make the U.S. a Leader on Climate Change" or save Americans money, two of the goals of his new energy plan.

Furthermore, as Obama himself notes, "The United States' Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is there for a purpose: to help Americans in times of crisis." The price of petrol meets no definition of crisis with which I am familiar. The AAA reports that fewer miles are being driven by Americans as a result of high prices. This is a good thing, with the associated reduction in pollution and road accidents. It is not a crisis.

(Yes, states are losing gas tax revenues that used to pay for road maintenance. But we need better railroads more than we need better roads. So I don't see that as anything approaching a crisis, either.)


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The journalist's name is Elizabeth Kolbert.

The real horror, is that yet another democratic politician has come to accept the deceitful and manipulative Republican propaganda.
If you act like you believe your enemies' lies, they win. It's a lesson the democrats keep getting taught, but somehow, keep failing to learn. This is a serious strategical error on Obama's part.

So a Democrat gets the majority of the nation excited about taking some serious progressive steps forward - and then craps out.

We can call this a lot of things, but none of them is "Change".

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 04 Aug 2008 #permalink

Cop out and bend over? Yes we can!

Well, certainly from outside of the USA, it's sometimes reaaaally difficult to discern the difference between what your republican and your democrat say at the bottom line.

It is usually only a matter of cosmetics with your goverment. The most important issues: energy, relationships with Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela; China, Korea and Asia; Israel, Irak and the Middle East. And of course, war expenses vs. health and education.