The massive oil spill spreading through the Gulf of Mexico is a horrific
environmental disaster that could have a devastating effect
populations, marine life, and the coastal ecology. But, crass though it
may seem, the very real political implications must also be considered.
After all, politicians set policy; many observers are already demanding
Obama roll back his plan to expand offshore drilling. Here's what the
oil spill could mean.
- Obama Must Prove Himself The
Washington Post's Michael Shear writes, "The
administration is well aware that the president's campaign victory was
built in part on a belief among voters that he would do a better job at
responding to disasters like Hurricane Katrina than did President Bush."
The disaster has left "the political effect on Obama's offshore
drilling plan and broader climate change agenda uncertain. ... The
accident in the gulf may provide more firepower for the critics on the
left who for years have lobbied presidents and Congress to keep in place
federal moratoriums on further offshore exploration."
Should Have Opposed Offshore Drilling All Along AMERICAblog's John Aravosis fumes. "Had the
White House stuck to its guns, and kept to its previous opposition to
offshore drilling, the current crisis would have worked to their
advantage," he writes. "Had the President sided with his friends and
allies, with the people who got him elected, with his own promises, he
wouldn't be in this mess."
Is Offshore Drilling Still Worth It? Writing in the New York Times,
Samuel Thernstrom doubts it. "Obama's proposal won't make
America energy independent, or even cut the cost of gasoline
perceptibly, given the size of global markets. Why did he bother?
Because the politics of the moment demanded it. Expanded offshore
exploration was Senator Lindsay Graham's price for cosponsoring climate
legislation.But that was before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
derailed the climate bill late last week, on the eve of its public
unveiling, diminishing the value of the deal on drilling." This disaster
further erodes the political calculus for offshore drilling.
Tankers Are Dangerous Too National Review's Jonah Goldberg warns against
reading this as an argument for importing oil rather than drilling
offshore for it. "It's worth noting that unless you're going to abandon
oil altogether, the case for offshore drilling -- and domestic drilling
generally -- still has a lot of merit, even on environmental terms. Oil
tankers are still way more dangerous than oil rigs. Thousands of tankers
traversing the oceans raises the risks of spills considerably more than
rigs close to shore."
- Public Still Favors Offshore Drilling
The Economist's Democracy in America
reports the surprising numbers. "In this week's poll, 63% favoured
increased offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. In a poll conducted
two weeks before the explosion, 63% favoured increased offshore
drilling for oil and natural gas. Perhaps that will change if/when the
oil starts washing up on shore, leading to photos like this.
... 66% of Republicans 'strongly support' offshore drilling, compared
with 21% of Democrats (still, more Democrats favour drilling than oppose
- Climate Bill and Energy Politics Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard explores how
the spill could "shape the debate over the Senate energy and climate
bill." She writes, "A group of 10 coastal state Democrats threatened to
vote against the Senate measure if it includes more drilling well before
this latest catastrophe. Now New Jersey senators Frank Lautenberg and
Robert Menendez are calling attention to the spill as evidence that
their worries are well founded. 'The bottom line is that when you drill
for oil, there is always a risk,' the senators said in a joint
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