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Posted by on Jun 17, 2008 in Politics | 6 comments

McCain Wants Offshore Drilling Ban To End

oil_platform.jpg

Suggesting that tough times call for tough measures, presumptive GOP Presidential nominee John McCain is calling for ending the federal offshore drilling ban — putting him at odds with environmentalist groups he was wooing and his own 2000 presidential campaign position on the issue.

The call is likely to mean environmentalists who have been counting the days since the Bush administration — considered by many environmental groups to be the worst administrations in American history on environmental matters — could work against him. And it also will likely be added to the list of issues on which Democrats say McCain has changed his positions. The Washington Post reports:

The move is aimed at easing voter anger over rising energy prices by freeing states to open vast stretches of the country’s coastline to oil exploration. In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, nearly 80 percent said soaring prices at the pump are causing them financial hardship, the highest in surveys this decade.

“We must embark on a national mission to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil,” McCain told reporters yesterday. In a speech today, he plans to add that “we have untapped oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States. But a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production. . . . It is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions.”

McCain’s announcement is a reversal of the position he took in his 2000 presidential campaign and a break with environmental activists, even as he attempts to win the support of independents and moderate Democrats. Since becoming the presumptive GOP nominee in March, McCain has presented himself as a friend of the environment by touting his plans to combat global warming and his opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in the Everglades.

Representatives of several environmental groups criticized him for backing an idea they said would endanger the nation’s most environmentally sensitive waters.

This is the quote that could be a harbinger of what McCain can expect in campaign 2008:

Sierra Club political director Cathy Duvall said McCain “is using the environment as a way to portray himself as being different from George Bush. But the reality is that he isn’t.” The group began running radio commercials yesterday that criticize McCain’s environmental record in the battleground state of Ohio.

Democratic presumptive nominee Sen. Barack Obama responded as you would expect with a comment linking McCain’s call to Bush administration policies.

But McCain’s comment did trigger other responses:

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has now made it known that he, too, has a change of heart on this issue and would support offshore drilling, a position not exactly seen as popular in Florida.
–Most New Jersey politicians let it be known that they oppose the idea.

The Financial Times’ Washington correspondents underscored the perception problem this is likely to create for McCain:

Nobody is yet calling John McCain a “flip-flopper”. But the Republican nominee’s increasingly finely balanced efforts to shore up his support among the shrinking Republican base while reaching out to independents is starting to fire up the critics.

On Tuesday morning, he launched an advertisement reminding voters of his repeated clashes with President George W. Bush over climate change, which Mr McCain believes is real and requires urgent action.

In the afternoon, he delivered a speech to the oil industry in Houston, calling for a lifting of the moratorium on offshore drilling in order to reduce petrol prices.

Mr McCain’s shift on offshore drilling – which contrasts with his strong support for upholding the moratorium in his 2000 bid for the Republican nomination – could further chip away at his reputation for being a “straight talker”.

But is McCain’s use of the energy issue a mistake, given all the pitfalls? Perhaps not: U.S. News’ James Pethokoukis talked with some political types and he argues the issue offers McCain 7 ways to beat Obama.

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Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • elrod

    The ad just writes itself. Show beautiful Florida beaches. Then show the oil spill from Exxon Valdez. Then have a narrator ask: “Is this what we want for Florida?”

  • Rambie

    Simply show the fact that it takes about 7 to 10 years once they start “exploration” to actually pump oil out of new areas.

    “An Energy Information Administration analysis in 2004 concluded that ‘between 7 and 12 years were required from an approval to explore and develop the coastal region of ANWR until first production.’… So even assuming Congress gave the go-ahead today, the first oil wouldn’t begin flowing until sometime between 2015 and 2020…” http://www.factcheck.org/gas_price_fixes_that_wont.html

    Yes, that’s ANWR but the time-line can’t be too different for other areas not already explored.

  • runasim

    Offshore drilling is something never discussed honestly.
    It’s not just between environmentlists and oil interests, although that’s all you hear about.

    First off, there is the very bad record of non-enforcemnt when it comes to contract terms. Oil companies can’t be counted on to fulfill their end of the clean up and damage repair bargain, and they stall on paying fines as well bargain fines down to pittances.

    On the other side, environmentalists are often joined by seashore developers and wealthy home owners who simply don;t want the pristine view spoiled, since views affect property value as well as aesthetic experience. Because the tourist industry is also impacted, it’s not all personal greed., however,

    There is a real question as to how much real interest there is in offshore drilling, and about the nature of the interest. Which companies are ready to invest in the 10 year or so exploration and development stage without a guarantee of big profits? Will they expect the taxpayer to foot the bill without sharing in the profits?

    Personally, I think some compromise could be possible, if all concerned were honest about their interests, contributions and responsibilities, I wish a compromise were more likely,, because we’re not in a position to dismiss lightly any potential energy sources for future needs.

    No matter how this turns out, the people who always get stiffed are medium to low wage earners.Their tax dollars go to government subsidies and bail outs, but they don’t don’t have the wherewithal to invest and share in the profits.
    It’s a system where the have-nots subsidize the haves, and the haves shriek in outrage when they are asked to contribute their share through appropriate taxes.

  • pacatrue

    I don’t know all the ins and out of the issue, but I would be willing to a compromise energy policy that both opened up more offshore drilling areas and simultaneously had extremely strong conservation and sustainable energy policies. Without the second, in 2025 we are just going to be in the exact same situation we are in now, since our increased demand will use up the increased supply. It might be ideal to just have a conservation and alternative energy platform, but we don’t live in an ideal world. If we can only get conservation by compromising on drilling, that might be the best we can do.

  • Put the offshore drilling on the ballot in the states that would be affected.

  • lurxst

    What seems to be missing is the point that oil companies have already got leases for thousands of square miles of US lands and coast to drill on, right now, today. Yet they aren’t using approximately 80% of their already available, researched and plotted fields.

    Why do they need yet more coast to drill on?

    As stated in the article, the lead time for an oil field to be producing is at least a decade. This isn’t about oil supply its about taking advantage of the energy price crunch to cheat US taxpayers into bargain barrel leases on what will someday be extremely valuable, and possibly necessary oil fields. I think as a nation we have an interest in not giving it away for “beads and whiskey” to international conglomerates.

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