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Obama moves back to middle with drilling plan

By Ben Pershing
After dispensing with a health-reform bill that mostly pleased liberals and alienated nearly all conservatives, President Obama heads back to the ideological middle Wednesday with a dramatic -- and controversial -- new plan for domestic oil exploration.

"The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time, officials said Tuesday," the New York Times reports, adding: "The proposal -- a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of affected states and many environmental organizations -- would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean. Under the plan, the coastline from New Jersey northward would remain closed to all oil and gas activity. So would the Pacific Coast, from Mexico to the Canadian border." The Associated Press notes that "Obama was set to announce the new drilling policy Wednesday at Andrews air base in Maryland. White House officials pitched the changes as ways to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil and create jobs -- both politically popular ideas -- but the president's decisions also could help secure support for a climate change bill languishing in Congress."

The Los Angeles Times writes that "the plan would: Eventually open two-thirds of the eastern Gulf's oil and gas resources for drilling; Proceed with drilling off Virginia, provided the project clears environmental and military reviews; Study the viability of drilling off the mid- and southern Atlantic coasts; Study the viability of drilling in Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas -- areas hotly defended by environmentalists -- but issue no new drilling leases in either sea before 2013. The eastern Gulf of Mexico leases hinge on Congress lifting a moratorium on drilling there. Even if that happens, administration officials said, Obama's plan included no drilling within 125 miles of the Florida coastline." The Washington Post says "The administration's decision to open up large swaths of the Outer Continental Shelf, even as it keeps some key preserves off-limits, is likely to anger environmentalists and several key lawmakers who had pressed Obama to keep the moratorium in place. But oil and gas companies are sure to welcome the proposal. The drilling policy represents the White House's latest attempt to straddle a middle ground on climate and energy policy, an effort that has already seen steps to boost domestic energy production and demands for stricter limits on greenhouse-gas emissions."

The Wall Street Journal observes, "Expanding drilling was a rallying cry for Republicans during the 2008 presidential campaign. Mr. Obama has said he is open to expanding offshore drilling on certain conditions. But his Interior secretary, Ken Salazar, extended by 180 days the deadline for public comment on a proposal issued under the Bush administration that would allow energy companies to drill for oil and natural gas in half a dozen areas off U.S. shores that had previously been off limits. Mr. Salazar has spent much of the past year weighing public comments on the proposal, as well as a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that found the Bush administration failed to conduct required environmental analyses of the impact of offshore drilling. Environmental groups and many Democrats from coastal states have opposed expanded offshore drilling, citing the environmental risks associated with spills." Grist's Jonathan Hiskes writes: "This is ... stunning. Baffling. With the new policy Obama appears to be taking a major step toward siding with carbon-polluting industries in the battle to defend the energy status quo. I'm holding out hope that things appear worse than they are. Because the key isn't how much offshore drilling is allowed. The crucial issue is whether oil and gas companies decide it's worth their money to go out, find, and retreive the stuff."

Meanwhile, the fight over health reform continues even after the measure is done. The Wall Street Journal reports: "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is planning a broad effort to blunt the health overhaul by trying to shape its regulatory language and spending heavily to unseat vulnerable Democrats who voted for it. The campaign is the latest example of the escalating tensions between proponents of the health overhaul and big businesses, which have become more specific in their criticisms of the new law. In recent days, a handful of large companies have reported hefty charges because the law eliminates a tax deduction for firms that offer prescription-drug coverage to retirees. In a letter to board members Monday, chamber president and chief executive Thomas J. Donohue said the business lobby will seek changes to regulations to 'minimize the potentially harmful impacts of this bill on our members and the country.' ... Mr. Donohue also said the group planned to spend $50 million this summer and fall to ensure that voters in pivotal House and Senate races know where lawmakers stand on health and other big issues. The chamber spent $36.4 million in the 2008 election." Industry has already given ground on one issue. The New York Times says, "Under pressure from the White House, health insurance companies said Tuesday that they would comply with rules to be issued soon by the Obama administration requiring them to cover children with pre-existing medical problems. 'Health plans recognize the significant hardship that a family faces when they are unable to obtain coverage for a child with a pre-existing condition,' said Karen M. Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade group. Accordingly, she said, 'we await and will fully comply with' the rules. Ms. Ignagni made the commitment in a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, who had said she feared that some insurers might exploit a possible ambiguity in the new health care law to deny coverage to some sick children."

Bloomberg offers a recap of the path to passage of health reform, much of it focused on the recollections of Tom Daschle. AP looks at the repeal movement: "Top Republicans are increasingly worried that GOP candidates this fall might be burned by a fire that's roaring through the conservative base: demand for the repeal of President Barack Obama's new health care law. It's fine to criticize the health law and the way Democrats pushed it through Congress without a single GOP vote, these party leaders say. But focusing on its outright repeal carries two big risks. Repeal is politically and legally unlikely, and grass-roots activists may feel disillusioned by a failed crusade. More important, say strategists from both parties, a fiercely repeal-the-bill stance might prove far less popular in a general election than in a conservative-dominated GOP primary, especially in states such as Illinois and California." Atul Gawande wonders what's next: "The health-reform bill that President Obama signed into law last week--the unmemorably named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act--could prove as momentous as Medicare. Yet, because most of its provisions phase in more slowly than Medicare did, they are even more vulnerable to attack. ... That's the one truly scary thing about health reform: far from being a government takeover, it counts on local communities and clinicians for success. We are the ones to determine whether costs are controlled and health care improves--which is to say, whether reform survives and resistance is defeated. The voting is over, and the country has many other issues that clamor for attention. But, as L.B.J. would have recognized, the battle for health-care reform has only begun."

Politico says "[t]he president's push to turn health care reform into a catalyst for the rest of his agenda is getting mixed early reviews on Capitol Hill, where Democratic leaders' desire to take advantage of healthy majorities before the November elections is running face-first into lawmakers' survival instincts. White House aides told POLITICO earlier this week that an emboldened Barack Obama plans to parlay his win on health care into a crack down on Wall Street excesses, a rewrite of education and campaign finance laws and possibly a climate change bill -- all before the fall's midterms. But aides and members, Republicans and Democrats alike, say that a Wall Street crackdown was coming -- and progress on climate change, immigration and other contentious measures probably wasn't -- no matter what had happened with the health care bill." Jonathan Turley looks at the constitutionality of the individual mandate: "Though strong arguments can be made for health care reform and the individual mandate, these are matters that should not be decided by mere fiat of Congress but rather by the courts. Federalism was already on life support before the individual mandate. Make no mistake about it, this plan might provide a bill of good health for the public, but it could amount to a "do not resuscitate" order for federalism."

The last piece of health reform became law Tuesday, along with Obama's student loan overhaul. The Chicago Tribune writes, "President Obama signed into law the last piece of his mammoth plan to overhaul healthcare Tuesday, and achieved another dramatic and far-reaching change with the very same pen stroke -- revamping the way most Americas help pay for a college education. The healthcare provisions and changes to the loan program for college students were sandwiched into a single piece of legislation -- the budget reconciliation bill approved last week by the House and Senate. And while the overhaul to the healthcare system is historic, the changes in the student loan program -- though smaller -- are also drastic."The New York Times notes that "In signing the bill, Mr. Obama put the final touches on his health care program but used the occasion to highlight the education provisions. 'That's two major victories in one week,' he told students and guests at the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College, where Jill Biden teaches English. While he praised the health care overhaul, the president said, 'what's gotten overlooked amid all the hoopla, all the drama of last week, is what's happened with education.'" Fox News reports that "Powerhouse student loan provider Sallie Mae says layoffs are imminent as a result of President Obama's new student loan overhaul. 'This legislation will force Sallie Mae to reduce our 8,600-person workforce by 2,500,' Conwey Casillas, Vice President of Sallie Mae Public Affairs, said in a statement to Fox News."

By Ben Pershing  |  March 31, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
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A move to the middle? This can fairly be called a move to the right for him, but calling this a move to the middle implies that Obama's new position is centrist.
I guarantee you a whole lot of people, I would argue a majority, would say that opening up huge chunks of the East Coast and elsewhere to drilling is a move right past the center and into corporate big oil right wing land.

Posted by: melchior1 | April 1, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

The President wasted a year of his first term in office pandering to the Regressive Republican Party. He needs to regain the "chops" recently displayed in getting the health care bill passed. The Regressives will NOT work with him. EVER. They are like Lucy and Charlie Brown, she, promising to hold the ball still while he kicks it, then, snatching it away at the last minute. The Democrats hold the Majority. Do NOT "Drill, baby, drill". Do what is ecologically sane and sound for humanity. We voted for change, not "business as usual" in Washington. Democratic constituents want and deserve BETTER! He must stick to his guns. He must not cave to the "Know nothings". He must continue to fulfill his campaign promises with or without the "Party of "No".

Posted by: billnbillieskid | March 31, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Head fake! How dumb does Obama think we are?
Off-shore drilling will never happen as long as he's got Salazar to impede it with regulations and cadres of his enviro-buddies to file lawsuits blocking it.
Is he counting on reversing this as soon as he wins the re-election he's banking on?

Posted by: parkbench | March 31, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

This is not a "move". In "Talks'" favorite sport, basketball, it is called a "fake", when you try to convince opponents that you are going one way and then change direction. He is simply trying to fool us. Don't fall for it. If it quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it's a duck.

Posted by: treedbrent | March 31, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

This is not a "move". In "Talks'" favorite sport, basketball, it is called a "fake", when you try to convince opponents that you are going one way and then change direction. He is simply trying to fool us. Don't fall for it. If it quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it's a duck.

Posted by: treedbrent | March 31, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

This is not a "move". In "Talks'" favorite sport, basketball, it is called a "fake", when you try to convince opponents that you are going one way and then change direction. He is simply trying to fool us. Don't fall for it. If it quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it's a duck.

Posted by: treedbrent | March 31, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

If they gave solar thermal, wind and geothermal the money they give nuclear, gas and oil - we wouldn't be in this mess - but noooooo the Texans want to keep making money the old fashion way with a 100 + year old corrupt dirty energy technology - who cares if we destroy the East coast infrastructure and economy - we're rich in Texas - yeeehaaa - and who cares if our treasure of blood and gold is wasted in the mideast bankrupting the country - we're rich in Texas - who cares about the Gulf Coast and Florida - we're rich in Texas - a disgusting betrayal only a wild cater could love.

Change your name to Bush and get it over with. Re-election - not my vote - dirty energy is non-negotiable - would you use a five year old computer - let alone continue to invest in a 100 + year old antiquated technology that requires us to build military bases on foreign soil - wouldn't you rather tap the sun light that washes over in abundance our globe everyday - its the big yellow thing in the sky - dear god - I just threw up in my mouth.

Paul Burke
Author- Journey Home

Posted by: JourneyHomeBurke | March 31, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

December 2009 Import Highlights: February 25, 2010

Monthly Data on the origins of crude oil imports in December 2009 has been released and it shows that three countries exported more than 1.00 million barrels per day to the United States (see table below).

The Top 5 Exporting countries accounted for 71% of United States Crude Oil Imports in December while the top ten sources accounted for approximately 87 percent of all U.S. crude oil imports.

The Top 5 Sources of US Crude Oil imports for December were #1 Canada (2.051 million barrels per day), #2 Mexico (1.063 million barrels per day), #3 Nigeria (1.020 million barrels per day), #4 Saudi Arabia (0.886 million barrels per day), and #5 Venezuela (0.772 million barrels per day).

The rest of the Top 10 Sources, in order, were Algeria (0.336 million barrels per day), Iraq (0.325) million barrels per day), Angola (0.266 million barrels per day), Brazil (0.181 million barrels per day), and Colombia (0.179 million barrels per day). Total crude oil imports averaged 8.133 million barrels per day in December, which is a decrease of 0.576 million barrels per day from November 2009.

Big Note: Canada remained the [Largest Exporter] of Total Petroleum in December, exporting 2.649 million barrels per day to the United States, which is an increase from last month (2.527 thousand barrels per day).

The [2nd Largest] Exporter of total petroleum was [Mexico] with 1.204 million barrels per day.

Crude Oil Imports (Top 15 Countries)
(Thousand Barrels per Day)

Country Dec-09 Nov-09 YTD 2009 Dec-08 YTD 2008

CANADA 2,051 1,984 1,938 2,033 1,956

MEXICO 1,063 951 1,096 1,126 1,187

NIGERIA 1,020 948 771 869 922

SAUDI ARABIA 886 837 989 1,394 1,503

VENEZUELA [Citgo Oil] 772 809 965 1,028 1,039

ALGERIA 336 219 277 235 312

IRAQ 325 458 448 519 627

ANGOLA 266 408 449 553 504

BRAZIL 181 261 294 208 231

COLOMBIA 179 216 254 148 178

RUSSIA 168 169 232 54 116

KUWAIT 160 287 185 194 206

AZERBAIJAN 147 74 75 78 73

CONGO (BRAZZAVILLE) 93 109 64 95 67

Posted by: omaarsblade | March 31, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I am disagree and am disappointed.
I support the president and just because I very much disagree on this issue doesn't mean I dislike, turn my back on him, ect.
I simply disagree.
I am totally against the drilling.

Posted by: vwcat | March 31, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

This is just a ploy and he is rewarding his little serfs for behaving and letting him pass Healthcare. Sure, drill, but not too close and not too deep. We are on to this guy and are not going to be fooled.

Posted by: CaPatriot | March 31, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

One more step in his desire for bipartisanship, this will once more place the bp ball in the repukican hands. One more thing they won't be able to use as a
campaign issue. As long as he is willing to not defy THEIR rhetorical issues, and continues to hug the middle, and attempts to draw them into the job of governing TOGETHER, their cries of dissent will become more and more unbelievable. Mitt Romney is having a devil of a time denying the huge link between his Massachusettes health care legislation and the HCR. Same
result will come from these oil endeavors.

Posted by: patriotgmalou | March 31, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

If this is a speedy move to the "middle"... then he is truly the turtle getting to that oil production gain in 2 - 10 years!!! This is more of a diversion than a policy shift I suspect.

Really think about it... Dept of Interior will drag it's feet on leases, EPA will study it to death and then the damned lawyers and envirowako's will moan and bring legal issues. All while WE .. hope(?) for new technology not yet invented to heat our homes, fuel our factories, etc.

How long did it take for us to put a man on the moon??

Posted by: NeoConVeteran | March 31, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: nikejordans1 | March 31, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse


hell no he's back to the right after his barely side step to the right/center with his insurance company handouts of health care reform

Posted by: newagent99 | March 31, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

The Apparent Big Oil Entrainment of Barack Obama:


I can see it now:

It's the height of the 2012 presidential campaign. President Obama, his coffers overflowing with a new infusion of oil money, is fighting for his political life, trying to retain his party's razor-thin majority in Congress. (The 2010 elections saw major GOP gains.)

And then comes the news flash: An off-shore drilling rig suffers a pipeline break, and a giant oil slick washes up on the East Coast's family beaches, from North Jersey to the North Carolina coast and all points in between. The thick, oozing oil results in a massive fish and bird kill; clogs inlets and storm sewer outlets; ruins beaches; and destroys a multimillion-dollar tourist economy.

The New York Post publishes a cartoon depicting President Obama as an oil-soaked East Coast shore bird, unable to fly, his "wings" fouled with a thick coat of oil.

The Obama camp calls it racist. Environmentalists get it.

An investigation can't rule out sabotage, but administration officials also float the idea that the pipeline may have been constructed with cheap, inferior bolts and nuts imported from China.

President Obama promptly announces the formation of a commission intended to impose strict new government regulations on the quality of Chinese fasteners.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney wins the presidential election in a landslide -- a Republican tidal wave that the pundits attribute to Obama's decision to open the East and Gulf Coasts to offshore drilling.

Sarah Palin is spotted trying to hide a telling smirk; her "drill, baby, drill!" strategy has yielded what some might call unintended consequences.


== Has President Obama Been Targeted for Silent Microwave Entrainment? ==

This is not a joke. Please read the "comments" section of the following article by a mainstream journalist who has exposed the U.S. government's covert cell tower- based domestic microwave "directed energy weapon" attack system -- being used to assault "targeted" U.S. citizens with damaging, debilitating microwaves and other radio frequencies:
OR (see "U.S. Silently..." and "Gestapo USA").

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 31, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

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