Today President Obama and Interior Secretary Salazar will announce plans to end the moratorium on oil exploration. An expanse for lease would become available from Delaware to central Florida and also include parts of the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea north of Alaska. From the NYTimes:
But while Mr. Obama has staked out middle ground on other environmental matters — supporting nuclear power, for example — the sheer breadth of the offshore drilling decision will take some of his supporters aback. And it is no sure thing that it will win support for a climate bill from undecided senators close to the oil industry, like Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, or Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana.
The Senate is expected to take up a climate bill in the next few weeks — the last chance to enact such legislation before midterm election concerns take over. Mr. Obama and his allies in the Senate have already made significant concessions on coal and nuclear power to try to win votes from Republicans and moderate Democrats. The new plan now grants one of the biggest items on the oil industry’s wish list — access to vast areas of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling.
My take? An end to the moratorium could be devastating–not just to fisheries and marine mammals–but also to coastal states that depend on beach tourists to boost their economies. Thankfully, no wells would be permitted within 125 miles of the Florida and Alabama coasts. And there’s this as well:
Mr. Obama is also expected to announce two other initiatives to reduce oil imports, an agreement between the Pentagon and the Agriculture Department to use more biofuels in military vehicles and the purchase of thousands of hybrid vehicles for the federal motor pool.
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