The Political Herd – Independent Columnist

“Drill Obama Drill!” Sarah Palin move out of the way –– a new proponent of offshore drilling has staked his ground.

Recently, President Obama proposed to open up coastlines along the Atlantic Coast, eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to offshore drilling.

In his attempts to wheedle Republican votes for future climate legislation he is opening 167 million acres of coastal waters that have been safeguarded since 1981. With this recent decision the President is putting a premium on political deals rather than environmental protection.

Drilling for support, Obama has come up empty. Following the President’s announcement, House minority leader John Boehner (R- Ohio) said that the President “continues to defy the will of the American people” and that indeed the massive expansion of offshore drilling does not go far enough. Boehner went on to deride the Environmental Protection Agency and its regulatory positions with the usual “job-destroying” mantra that has come to be expected from the right.

Additionally, who can forget Senator McCain’s infamous vow to not work together for the rest of year? The Republicans are satisfied with maintaining their obstructionist agenda to the mid-term elections.

The fact that Obama expects this announcement to win him support without any commitments on the Republican side is incomprehensible to me.

On the Democratic side, Obama has to placate members of Congress worried about the potential oil spills which could harm vital commercial industries such as tourism and fishing in their home states. Some believe that the U.S. will only be able to gain a small amount of oil that is not worth the huge environmental risk.

I value the President’s desire to gain support for a (hopefully) comprehensive energy bill. But there is little value in the President’s grand proclamations of “energy independence” and “payback to taxpayers.”  Before any oil production can occur, companies determine the potential production of areas with exploratory drilling.

Also, federal agencies must complete environmental reviews and seismic studies to determine where the largest oil deposits are located. Even with the implementation of offshore drilling, Americans won’t see a single drip of new oil for years to come. The band-aid solution of offshore drilling will not solve our energy problems.

The U.S. has no offshore wind farms even though it is the largest wind-power producer in the world. According to a recent study published April 5 in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science described in Wired Magazine, a 1,550-mile-long network of offshore wind stations could provide power from Massachusetts to North Carolina with minimal threat of outages. But without government backing in areas such as subsidies and investment there is little optimism for American clean energy companies.

Companies like Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar, Inc. which makes solar panels have moved to countries where government policies create an inviting market for clean energy products. Instead of jockeying for the clean energy market, the U.S. governmental policies continue to focus on the fuel of the past.

“What wouldn’t do a thing to lower gas prices is … to open up Florida’s coastline to Offshore drilling. It would have long-term consequences to our coastlines but no short term benefits since it would take at least 10 years to get any oil… it will take a generation to reach full production and even then the effect on gas prices will be minimal at best.” -Barack Obama, presidential candidate 2008