Obama Proposes Oil & Gas Drilling in Vast Swaths of U.S. Waters

By Andrew Moseman | March 31, 2010 1:56 pm

OffshoreOilOffshore oil and gas drilling is coming to much of the east coast. Today President Obama announced plans for energy exploration through 2017 that would open up drilling in coastal areas off the southeastern United States, and potentially some areas near Alaska.

Under the proposal, 167 million new acres in the Atlantic Ocean from Delaware to Florida, as well as new swaths in the Gulf of Mexico, would be opened to energy development. Parts of the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea, both of which are north of Alaska in the Arctic Ocean, could see drilling after 2013 if viability studies give them the go-ahead. But not all areas that energy companies would like to explore are available in the plan.

No areas off the west coast would be made available. Obama also said proposed leases in Alaska’s Bristol Bay would be canceled. He would also limit any oil and gas drilling off the coast of Florida to no closer than 125 miles from the shore [USA Today]. Bristol Bay has been off-limits since the Exxon Valdez incident in 1989, when the tanker spilled at least 10 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean. President George W. Bush’s energy plan, which Obama overturned upon taking office, would have opened the bay to drilling.

In his announcement, Obama stressed that the United States should allow oil and gas drilling in new areas to reduce foreign dependence and add to the country’s energy portfolio. But just how much energy is down there is unclear. There could be as much as a three-year supply of recoverable oil and more than two years’ worth of natural gas, at current rates of consumption. But those estimates are based on seismic data that is, in some cases, more than 30 years old [The New York Times]. The first results could come from the waters off Virginia, as the first new lease could be sold there next year.

More than the country needs that oil, it might be that Obama needs the political support from drilling advocates. With health care finished, the President’s next major task is to drum up support for a bill to address climate change. The administration is pushing expanded offshore exploration as a bargaining chip in its attempts to enact sweeping legislation to curb oil imports and reduce greenhouse gas emissions [Los Angeles Times]. As another part of the energy push, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last week (viewable free on the DOE Web site) praising nuclear power, and specifically the potential for small nuclear reactors.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Technology
  • http://philosophiareflextions.blogspot.com Ernie M. Brewer

    Just one more reason why President Obama’s many promises are totally just rhetorical devices to sway the public to support a broken government.

  • http://tispaquin.blogspot.com Doug Watts

    Umm … incorrect headline.

    This allows cos. to apply for exploration permits. Not extraction. Extraction still needs to be fully permitted under NEPA, the ESA, Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act, etc. etc.

    Also note:

    There could be as much as a three-year supply of recoverable oil and more than two years’ worth of natural gas, at current rates of consumption. But those estimates are based on seismic data that is, in some cases, more than 30 years old.

    So the extent to which any extraction will ever take place is totally speculative.

  • scott

    Regardless, it just shows he is a puppet to big industry and big oil. I don’t think it will stop until every last drop is sucked up, burned and turned into plastic toys and bottles that will eventually decorate the Pacific.

  • Lucas

    Obama is seriously the worst present ever! Yes, I hated Bush too, but at least he was liked within the first 100 days of office. Obama continues to lie and misconstrue everything he says he stands for. This is nothing more than to have control and steal, steal, steal more money from the people who work hard in this country. Plus, with a limited supply of oil and gas I’m wondering what they’ll mark up the price of gas $20 bucks for a gallon, what? It’s even ridiculous that the environment and that we’re trying to protect will have to endure possible oil spills, ect. just for a three year supply. UnF**king believable. Mr. Obama, go F**K yourself back to the ghetto and corrupt IL. government where you came from!

  • Andrew T. Kim

    Oil is a thing of the past; if the government is going to invest tax-payer’s money in energy, it needs to be invested in the future. We need to start investing in longterm sustainable growth. (Unexplored potential in nuclear power!!!!)

  • JerryT

    I wish someone would explain to me how China (or whoever) winning a bid on an offshore oil drilling lease reduces our dependence on foreign oil.

  • Jason

    I have always supported offshore oil drilling in the US as a means of becoming independent of hostile middle-eastern countries for energy. Once this is achieved, we can start investing heavily in renewable energy resources and phase out oil as much as possible. But for this two-faced jerk Obama to do a 180 on offshore drilling now is reprehensible. In the face of losing the next election, because of his unpopular, socialist healthcare bill, he goes forward with this to try and “stem the blood loss”. It’s just another way for him to push the “government dick” up the asses of big business for more control. It’s not that he didn’t want offshore drilling. He wanted CONTROL of offshore drilling if it occurred.


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