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August 02, 2008



Support it? It's pretty clear in all of his comments, both the current ones and the past ones, that he opposes drilling. He's expressing a vague willingness to give in to limited expansion of drilling if it means he gets other things he wants on energy policy.

To throw an obvious analogy, this would be like acquiescing to moving your primary date up if it means you get a paper trail. Do you believe that Florida Democrats ENDORSED the moving of the primary date?


Even better - let's not bother trying to parse two lines from a newspaper report. Here's a major speech Obama just gave on the subject:

Here's the most relevant excert. I apologize for it's length, but I want to give context in case you don't read the rest (although it's a good read).

"...increased domestic oil exploration certainly has its place as we make our economy more fuel-efficient and transition to other, renewable, American-made sources of energy. But it is not the solution. It is a political answer of the sort Washington has given us for three decades.

"There are genuine ways in which we can provide some short-term relief from high gas prices... I believe we should immediately give every working family in America a $1,000 energy rebate, and we should pay for it with part of the record profits that the oil companies are making right now.

"I also believe that in the short-term, as we transition to renewable energy, we can and should increase our domestic production of oil and natural gas. But we should start by telling the oil companies to drill on the 68 million acres they currently have access to but haven't touched. And if they don't, we should require them to give up their leases to someone who will. We should invest in the technology that can help us recover more from existing oil fields, and speed up the process of recovering oil and gas resources in shale formations in Montana and North Dakota; Texas and Arkansas and in parts of the West and Central Gulf of Mexico. We should sell 70 million barrels of oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve for less expensive crude, which in the past has lowered gas prices within two weeks. Over the next five years, we should also lease more of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska for oil and gas production. And we should also tap more of our substantial natural gas reserves and work with the Canadian government to finally build the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline, delivering clean natural gas and creating good jobs in the process.

"But the truth is, none of these steps will come close to seriously reducing our energy dependence in the long-term. We simply cannot pretend, as Senator McCain does, that we can drill our way out of this problem. We need a much bolder and much bigger set of solutions. We have to make a serious, nationwide commitment to developing new sources of energy and we have to do it right away.

"Last week, Washington finally made some progress on this. A group of Democrat and Republican Senators sat down and came up with a compromise on energy that includes many of the proposals I've worked on as a Senator and many of the steps I've been calling for on this campaign. It's a plan that would invest in renewable fuels and batteries for fuel-efficient cars, help automakers re-tool, and make a real investment in renewable sources of energy.

"Like all compromises, this one has its drawbacks. It includes a limited amount of new offshore drilling, and while I still don't believe that's a particularly meaningful short-term or long-term solution, I am willing to consider it if it's necessary to actually pass a comprehensive plan. I am not interested in making the perfect the enemy of the good - particularly since there is so much good in this compromise that would actually reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

"And yet, while the compromise is a good first step and a good faith effort, I believe that we must go even further..."

D. Cupples


How are you? You said:

"He's expressing a vague willingness to give in to limited expansion of drilling if it means he gets other things he wants on energy policy. To throw an obvious analogy, this would be like acquiescing to moving your primary date up if it means you get a paper trail. Do you believe that Florida Democrats ENDORSED the moving of the primary date?"

First, I disagree that Florida's primary is analagous.

Second, "Expressing a vague willingness to give into a limited expansion of drilling" IS supporting drilling. Period. It's the opposite of being against drilling.

He made it SEEM clear that he was against offshore drilling before, now he says he's willing to "compromise" and not be "rigid."

On SOME issues, there is no compromise or middle ground, because the choices are binary. FISA was one of them, and offshore drilling is another.

As I said, you can't get a little bit pregnant.


How is this not like the Florida situation?

I want X. I don't want Y. You say, "if you vote for Y, I will vote for X". I agree and vote for a bill that has X and Y.

How is it different?


Sorry, this isn't pregnancy. It's not binary. There is a middle ground, and plenty of more extreme ground on both ends of what you're considering the binary options.

Just for argument's sake, I will give you a spectrum of ten positions on offshore drilling, from most pro-drilling to least pro-drilling. I came up with the number ten as I wrote it, but I'm not worried because I'm sure I could come up with a spectrum of 15 or 20, too.

1) Make all waters private from the water line to international waters, release all lands immediately to bidding, and allow drilling anywhere.

2) As above, but restrict drilling on or adjacent to beaches, marinas, et cetera, using basic zoning restrictions.

3) As above, but maintain a thin band of public land, free of drilling, in immediate coastal waters near heavily populated areas.

4) As above, but maintain public land in all immediate coastal waters.

5) As above, but keep all waters public, and allow unrestricted drilling only after a small distance (a few miles) from land via leases.

6) As above, but extend the "no drill zone" farther from land (note: I could put as many standards here as I like, just by incrementing the distance slowly).

7) As above, but allow local or state governments to restrict drilling in their waters.

8) As above, but make the default that drilling is NOT approved, and require local/state approval.

9) As above, but require higher environmental/operational standards in any new drilling, and/or introduce an additional excise tax on any oil brought up.

10) No new drilling leases.

11) No new drilling leases, plus introduce higher environmental/operational standards on any new drilling operations on existing leases, and/or introduce an additional excise tax on any oil brought up.

12) As above, except apply such rules retroactively to existing drilling rigs.

13) As above, but place a moratorium on new drilling operations, even on existing leases(perhaps refunding some of the lease).

14) End all offshore drilling immediately (perhaps refunding some of the lease).

Sorry about the extra four. I just kept putting down numbers until I got to "end all drilling".

The point is, there's a huge spectrum of possible outcomes when it comes to offshore drilling. I'd probably put myself around a 9 on that spectrum; you might be a 10 or a 12. McCain is a 5, Obama is a 9 or 10. Ron Paul would probably be a 2. The compromise is a 6.5 (rules appear to vary state-by-state).

This seems to be another case where you immediately assume the worst out of Obama, where it's quite easy to give him the benefit of the doubt. You basically jump to "this means he's pro-drilling" when there's really very little reason to think that. He's against drilling but think's it's more important to get moving toward alternative energy than to completely hold the line on drilling. It's a question of priorities, as he explicitly states in his speech.

Of course, it's impossible to give McCain the benefit of the doubt, since he's explicitly supported drilling, irrespective of any compromise.

D. Cupples


You might be right. I'll have to reconsider.

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