By Mike Mulvihill
Young climate activists, who worked to mobilize voters in order to elect President Obama, are expressing great disappointment in the President’s recent announcement to expand oil leasing into large areas off the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico,
It’s Getting Hot in Here (dispatches from the youth climate movement) dismays their generation is getting screwed over by Obama’s offshore drilling plan. “It’s like a kick in the face” says Jonathan Ruiz, a Florida International University student who spent 14 months campaigning for Obama..
Oh ye of little faith. Obama has learned how to play politics quite well in his limited time in national office. His concession on off shore drilling is both a “chit” is his plan to pass a comprehensive climate bill and a concession that in reality may never yield a single drilling platform.
In a Forbes.com blog, Michael J. Economides, editor-in-chief of Energy Tribune, leading energy analyst, consultant, educator, petroleum engineer and author, compares Obama’s approach to a poker hand. He postures that Obama’s movement on off shore drilling, while a positive step for increasing domestic energy resources, is just part of his strategy in a bigger game to gain passage of a climate change bill in Congress. Furthermore, he correctly postulates that the EPA can kill or place so many hurdles in the path of increased off shore drilling as to effectively stymie any efforts.
Some, like America’s NewsOnline, have a more Machiavellian viewpoint. They believe the Obama administration has no intention of increasing oil and gas exploration and is only using this announcement as a carrot for movement on its Cap-and-Trade bill (which off shore will eventually fall under as well).
Enough political drama, let’s look at this pragmatically. In my adopted state of Virginia, newly minted Gov. Bob McDonnell has pledged to make Virginia “The Energy Capital of the East Coast.” He and our legislature have passed a number of green energy initiatives, including the creation of the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority, as well as voicing support for expanded drilling in the Atlantic waters off Virginia.
But both the Navy (which has the world’s largest naval base in Norfolk) and NASA, which houses a rocket launch facility on Wallops Island on the Virginia Eastern Shore, have sent letters expressing concerns about offshore drilling in recent years. And both the Navy and NASA are just as likely to have great concerns with offshore wind farms disrupting their sensitive business.
Regardless of your political persuasion or environmental stance, the grim reality is that a gauntlet lays in front of any off shore drilling and, for that matter, off shore wind production with the heaviest odds laid against any new drilling initiatives ever coming to fruition. So greenies have some faith.