In a striking policy reversal, the Obama administration on Wednesday announced a ban on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic coast for at least seven years. President Obama had said in March that he would allow the drilling — a concession to conservatives and oil companies — but Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the massive BP oil spill made it necessary to reconsider. Republican critics called the reversal "irresponsible," and said it would cost the Gulf region jobs. Is it wise to bar drilling in such a vast area? (Watch a PBS report about Obama's announcement)
After the BP disaster, this is a no-brainer: The massive oil spill showed beyond all doubt that expanding drilling was "not the best idea," says Nitasha Tiku at New York. But "the reversal sounds more progressive" than it really is. "Drilling will still be allowed in the western and central Gulf — where the spill occurred and where drilling is more common." It will also be allowed in the Arctic. It just has to "follow new safeguards."
"Obama administration changes its mind about offshore drilling"
Obama is just scared to do what is right: This "inane" flip-flop "will deliver a body blow to American exploration and energy independence," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. By "caving" to the demands of his "hard-left base" the president is showing he doesn't have the guts to stand his ground. It shouldn't take seven years to properly "fix the regulatory apparatus on offshore drilling," especially after the BP disaster showed reform is needed immediately.
"Obama to reverse position on offshore drilling"
It's all just part of the Washington chess game: Obama had originally supported Atlantic drilling as a good-faith effort "to woo Republican support for climate change legislation," says Jed Lewison at Daily Kos. That gambit didn't work — not a single Republican got on board. So now "we're pretty much back to square one" and we still need to do something "about the looming energy and climate crises before its too late."
"Obama administration reinstates coastal drilling moratorium"