You are here

White House Sleight of Hand on Oil Drilling

News Releases

Title

White House Sleight of Hand on Oil Drilling

After Taking Ten Steps Back on Domestic Oil Production,President Obama Now Takes One Small Step Forward

The White House announcement today that limited areas off the coasts of North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, and Alaska will be open to oil and gas exploration obscures the fact that most areas are still being ruled off limits. Most of Alaska, all of the Pacific coast, and other areas that could yield affordable energy for American consumers are still closed off from any development

Washington, D.C., March 31, 2010—The White House announcement today that limited areas off the coasts of North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, and Alaska will be open to oil and gas exploration obscures the fact that most areas are still being ruled off limits. Most of Alaska, all of the Pacific coast, and other areas that could yield affordable energy for American consumers are still closed off from any development. Rather than a painful compromise, this is therefore actually a step back from what the American people thought had been achieved in 2008.

“When gas reached four dollars a gallon, the American people were shocked to discover that most of our domestic oil reserves were locked up by the federal government. They demanded change,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute Director of Energy Policy Myron Ebell.

In 2008, President George W. Bush revoked his father’s executive order barring new offshore energy development and the Department of the Interior prepared a five year offshore leasing plan. The Democratic Congress co-operated by dropping the long-time moratorium which banned offshore oil production everywhere except in the western Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean off Alaska. The Obama administration, however, suspended the Interior plan and delayed a planned lease auction scheduled for 2011. It is now proposing a new plan that is much more limited.

“Anyone who sees this as a step in the right direction should remember that President Obama still supports energy-rationing policies to address global warming that would cause electricity prices to, in his own words, ‘necessarily skyrocket’ and would require gas prices of at least seven dollars a gallon according to a recent Harvard study,” said Ebell. “I guess when gas hits seven dollars as a result of Obama’s policies, Americans can take comfort in the fact that a bit more of it is being produced in the U.S.” 

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest group that studies the intersection of regulation, risk, and markets.