In an interview with the St. Petersburg Times today, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said that he would be open to supporting some offshore drilling as part of an energy bill compromise. The compromise energy bill was introduced today by 10 Democratic and Republican senators that is a combination of funding for alternative energy, conservation, and offshore drilling.
Obama said of the compromise that would allow offshore drilling 50 miles off the coast of the Southeastern U.S., “My attitude is that we can find some sort of compromise. If it is part of an overarching package, then I am not going to be rigid in preventing an energy package that goes forward that is really thoughtful and is going to really solve the problem.”
What Obama said he opposes is an energy plan that is limited to only offshore drilling, “So what I want to do is just to make sure that we are putting together the kind of comprehensive plan that is going to work. And if you have a package that is offshore drilling only, which is essentially what Bush and McCain have been emphasizing, then I think that that is not going to solve the problem and I would be opposed to that.”
This is different from what Obama said in June, “And when I am president. I will keep the moratorium in place and prevent oil companies from drilling off Florida’s coasts. That’s how we can protect our coasts and still make the investments that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and bring down gas prices for good.”
Obama also once again stated that we can’t drill our way out of this crisis, so I don’t think this is a flip-flop because Obama is only supporting offshore drilling as part of a comprehensive energy bill. He would be crazy to go against a bill that is set to provide $884 billion for alternative energy and technology research because it contains a limited offshore drilling provision.
There are some potential stumbling blocks in this bill. The main one is that it calls for the elimination of $30 billion in tax breaks for the oil companies. This alone could provoke a veto from President Bush who has opposed the elimination of all tax cuts. Whether Obama supports it or not, I still believe that offshore drilling is a waste of time, and gift for the oil companies. However, this compromise bill was born out of an election year fear of voter backlash due to gas prices. Actually this bill makes perfect sense, which is probably why it will crash and burn.