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By Shay Bapple on Apr 12, 2010 with no responses

Drill Away: Obama Reverses Direction on Off Shore Oil Hunting

Despite campaign promises to the contrary, President Obama does not think the sun has set on off-shore fuel exploration.

After denouncing off-shore oil drilling almost two years ago, President Barack Obama’s new plans for reducing the United State’s energy dependency includes carrying out the same steps that Bush Administration and former foe John McCain supported all along.

Last week, in front of a crowd at Andrews Air Force Base, Obama announced his plan to open up parts of the United States coast to off-shore drilling sites, while putting a stop to drilling in current off-shore zones. Obama believes that combining biofuel production, wind energy, nuclear energy with exploring for oil and natural gas sites, will help the U.S. become free from foreign oil all together. However, Obama’s proposal for oil and natural gas expiration in parts of Northern Alaska, parts of the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico raise questions about the viability of the plan as well as contempt among environmentalists.

Obama stated in the speech that he will strive to open up the Atlantic Coast from Delaware down to Florida, Eastern Parts of the Gulf of Mexico and the Northern seas of Alaska, including the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas for exploration. In turn, oil drilling will be shut down in the Atlantic from Delaware north, the Pacific coastline and Bristol Bay in Alaska.

One possible explanation for the White House’s change in direction is because of recent reports from the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, predicting that undiscovered, recoverable resources in Beaufort Sea could yield 7 billion barrels of oil and 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The Chukchi Sea holding potential yields of 12 billion barrels of oil and 54 million cubic feet of natural gas.

Obama also said that the decision, even though it will be highly controversial, is necessary to protect our economy and create jobs. Also, those will strongly disagree with the plan, but it is part of a broader strategy of keeping the reliance on home grown resources instead of relying on foreign sources.

“Given our energy needs in order to sustain economic growth and produce jobs and keep our businesses competitive we are going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel,” said Obama.

In the President's 2010 "State of the Union" address, Obama received applause when he described "making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. "

Obama still insists that drilling must be kept to a minimum and stressed the importance of developing clean burning fuels. The reason behind making his speech at Andrews was because of the military’s goal of using a minimum of 50 percent biofuel in military planes, vehicle and ships in the next ten years. He said that the military leads by example.

That being said, it is indisputable that Obama’s stance on offshore drilling has veered substantially from promises he made in his presidential campaign throughout 2009. Prior to his election in 2008, Obama delivered a speech in front of media and Florida residents denouncing, Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain’s backing of the Bush Administration’s plans to explore for oil reserves along the U.S. Coastline. At that time, Obama was critical of the Bush administration for permitting a twenty-five year Congressional moratorium on new off-shore drilling to expire.

In the 2008 speech, Obama addressed the record high gas prices and suggested ways to fix the problem, but specifically said that new drilling was not the solution.

‘What would not do a thing, to lower gas prices, is John McCain’s new proposal, a proposal adopted by George W. Bush as well, to open Florida’s coastline to offshore drilling,” said Obama in the 2008 speech. “There would be long term consequences for our coastlines, but no short term benefits since it would take at least ten years to get any oil.”

Obama went on to say in the 2008 speech that drilling would not help gas prices at all and that full production of new oil reserves would not reach full potential until 2030. New drilling would only worsen our addiction to oil and when he would become president, he would continue to support the moratorium on off-shore drilling.

Some environmentalist groups have already spoken out against Obama’s new plans stating that ecosystem damage is unavoidable.

Michael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club, in a public statement said that his organization was upset over the decision. Brune said that the U.S. should be taking steps toward clean energy, referring to recently enacted clean air regulations and not “dirty, expensive off-shore drilling.”

Brune said that drilling in the Arctic will threaten marine life and there will always be the danger of oil spills and drilling could jeopardize beaches and tourist economies.