Obama & Alaska Drilling
May 15, 2011 by USA Post
Obama & Alaska Drilling, In a move widely seen as an effort to neutralize criticism from Republicans and responding to voter frustration and gas prices, President Obama announced a series of measures to increase domestic oil production in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. Despite the measures include the expansion of drilling in the Alaskan government land, government officials were quick to emphasize that Obama is not advocating exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and along the Pacific coast.
“I think we should expand oil production in the U.S. even as it increases the safety and environmental standards,” Obama said during his Saturday radio program and website address. He was sure to note that, while actions “make sense” does not do much for gas prices in the near future.
Among the measures announced on Saturday to meet that goal, Obama said the Interior Department, now have annual sales of offshore leasing in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska, the land set aside in 1923 as an emergency fuel source for the U.S. Navy. Although the lease sales were held there in the past, have not been in any kind of regular schedule. Obama also announced that oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska would be extended by a year to recover the time lost business during the drilling moratorium that followed the BP oil spill last year. The plan also urges acceleration of environmental studies at the central and south Atlantic, and an interagency working group to expedite permits drilling in Alaska.
“Many of the proposals are incremental expansions of existing policies and put in place before Saturday’s announcement,” said Hill. While some are taking pains to describe the president’s efforts as a change in posture, Steven Mufson Washington Post notes that “resemble the positions the president took just one month before the BP oil spill in the Gulf.”
Even if Obama had expressed support for similar measures in the past, the announcement comes after the Republican-led House passed three bills in the last 10 days to expand domestic oil drilling. The White House has made clear that it opposes all three bills, but that has not stopped Obama to “take some of the provisions of the draft law” as the Associated Press said. But that was partly the point. Government officials said the moves are intended to show that the president is willing to listen to all sides on the issue, says the Los Angeles Times.
Even if some provisions are similar, Republicans were quick to say that what Obama is proposing is too little too late. “A weekend address minor tweaks advertising policy, although positive, does not erase the Administration long history of working-destruction lock up energy resources in the U.S.,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, president of the House Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. But Alaska’s senators, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski, expressed optimism, reports the Anchorage Daily News.
The Center for American Progress Tom “Kenworthy said recently that the oil and gas has nearly 7,200 permits to drill on federal lands that have never been used. To address this problem, the administration is “considering reducing royalty payments to companies that develop within the first three years of their leases,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
Obama also reiterated he wants to repeal the tax incentives the oil and gas companies receive each year and noted that a working group is studying the possibility of fraud or market manipulation has led to increased gas prices. Meanwhile, McClatchy reports that speculation on Wall Street is the main factor behind high gas prices as “70 percent of contracts for future delivery of oil are bought by financial speculators.”
Although many blithely write that Obama’s approval rating has been battered by gasoline prices, Nate the New York Times’ Silver has recently indicated that studies have shown the link between gas prices and presidential approval “is weak “and” informalanlysis of the correlation tend to error causation. ”
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