U.S. President Barack Obama has announced plans to open large areas of the east and southern coasts of the United States to oil and gas exploration and drilling.
President Obama said the move is part of a broader strategy that shifts American dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil to domestic fuels and clean energy.
The plan ends a more than 20-year ban on most offshore drilling outside the Gulf of Mexico.
Environmentalists are strongly opposed to the plan as are some members of Mr. Obama’s Democratic Party who are concerned about the environmental impact.
Mr. Obama said he did not make the decision lightly. He said the drilling must balance the need to harness domestic energy resources while protecting natural resources.
The president hopes the action will attract the support of opposition Republicans and encourage the U.S. Congress to pass a stalled bill on climate change.
With White House Drilling Announcement, Cap-and-Trade Officially Dies
After a long and bumpy past, it’s now clear that cap-and-trade has gone from the gurney to the morgue. The stark admission came this morning during a CNBC interview with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “I think the term ‘cap-and-trade’ is not in the lexicon anymore,” he said, suggesting that more agreeable goals, like slowing pollution and reducing oil imports, were more in the scope of the administration. Instead, the White House signaled it would be moving in a slightly different direction by opening parts of the Virginia coast and northern Alaska to offshore drilling.
There has been plenty of outrage from environmental groups all morning. Environment America director Anna Aurilio said that the announcement “makes no sense,” especially when clean technologies on the horizon will usher in energy security. Ocean advocacy group Oceana was “appalled that the president is unleashing a wholesale assault on the oceans,” according to programs director Jackie Savitz. Neither group was particularly relieved that the drilling would be localized, or that pristine areas like Alaska’s Bristol Bay will still be protected from oil rigs.
Barack Obama reverses campaign promise and approves offshore drilling
President allows oil and gas exploration off several coastal areas to horsetrade with Republicans over climate change bills