It’s unfortunate that, at least until this Friday, Barack Obama opposed off-shore drilling. Still, this is a policy issue on which reasonable people probably can differ and certainly could before gasoline prices skyrocketed. But, as I set forth below, Obama has also led a one-man crusade to keep the American people ignorant about what’s at stake in the debate over off-shore drilling. This, it seems to me, is almost criminal. For it implies that there is no set of facts under which we should ever consider drilling off-shore. The absurdity of that position, always apparent, is confirmed by Obama’s willingness to flip on the issue.
Here’s the background. In 2005, Congress considered energy legislation that included an off-shore inventory. The inventory would provide an estimate of our off-shore reserves. Taking it wouldn’t mean drilling; it would just tell us what’s out there. Yet Obama voted to kill the off-shore inventory provision. So, unfortunately, did John McCain. However, the effort to kill the inventory failed, and the first inventory report was issued in February 2006.
Obama, though, did not give up in his efforts to keep the public ignorant. In January 2007, he proposed legislation to eliminate the authorization to conduct the inventory, as established in the 2005 law. Obama’s bill is S. 115. The key provision is section 101(a)(5). It provides that “Section 357 (42 U.S.C. 15912) (relating to comprehensive inventory of OCS oil and natural gas resources)” is “repealed as of the date of enactment of this act.” It’s my understanding that Obama is the only sponsor of this legislation.
Ironically, Obama called his legislation “The Oil SENSE Act.” How audacious a label for an act that would deprive the public of key information relevant to deciding whether off-shore drilling makes sense. As far as I know, Obama’s legislation is still pending.
It’s wonderful that Obama now thinks it might be ok to drill off-shore, provided that such drilling is part of an “overarching really thoughtful” energy package. Perhaps now, as part of the package, Obama will stop opposing an inventory of our off-shore energy assets. After all, if Obama is prepared to support drilling, he no longer needs to keep voters in the dark about what we are losing by not drilling.
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