McCain announced Tuesday that he favors lifting the ban on offshore drilling and allowing states to decide whether or not to allow oil drilling offshore. Bush is expected to ask Congress today to lift the offshore drilling ban. Quotable quotes from both sides of the issue from the story:
¥McCain said:

“I’m all for recycling — but it’s better applied to paper and plastic than to the failed policies of the 1970s,” he said.

“The next president must be willing to break with the energy policies, not just of the current administration, but the administrations that preceded it, and lead a great national campaign to achieve energy security for America

We have proven 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. And I believe it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use

¥Obama said:

“John McCain’s support of the moratorium on offshore drilling during his first presidential campaign was certainly laudable, but his decision to completely change his position and tell a group of Houston oil executives exactly what they wanted to hear today was the same Washington politics that has prevented us from achieving energy independence for decades,” he said.

“It’s another example of short-term political posturing from Washington, not the long-term leadership we need to solve our dependence on oil,” he said.

¥Florida Senator Bill Nelson said:

I thought John McCain was serious when he said he wanted to make America less dependent on oil. I didn’t think he was a flip-flopper. He knows that more drilling isn’t the solution to high gas prices

McCain suggests that lifting the ban on offshore drilling is a way for the U.S. to achieve ‘energy independence’. By referring to the high cost of gas at the pump, he’s hoping to imply that offshore drilling == lower gasoline prices. I’m pretty skeptical about that connection personally – I suspect that the oil companies aren’t planning on paying for all that exploration and drilling out of their current obscene profits. I’m figuring any R&D costs for new domestic drilling is going to get added to the ‘expense’ column and balanced with even higher prices at the pump because, you know, we should be willing to pay them to plunder the coastlines, risk the environment and continue our dependence on carbon fuels.

There’s also the matter of time. Offshore exploration and drilling isn’t an instant fix – the most optimistic estimate I heard was 10+ years before we really see any significant amount of domestic oil via new offshore drilling. Which is also, coincidentally, the amount of time that Honda estimates it will take before the hydrofuel technology that powers their fuel cell cars will be in the hands of the everyday consumer rather than the 200 Chosen.

Ten years to mire us deeper into dependence on the same old same old fossil fuel or ten years to open up new horizons in cleaner, renewable energy sources. I know which one I’d pick.


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