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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Climate Progress says I'm being too hard on Obama on the offshore drilling flip-flop:

I do think that agreeing to some coastal drilling now is de minimis as for two reasons:
1. Congress is going to have to end the moratorium sooner or later. If $4 gasoline doesn’t bring enough pressure from the oil companies, conservatives, and the public, then $6 or $8 will. So why not agree to it now in return for jumpstarting the transition to a clean energy economy — rather enduring pointless political pain and waiting a few years to start the serious transition?

2. The Group-of-10 bipartisan deal leaves most coastal states out, as I’ll discuss in Part 2. And I doubt many of the remaining states are going to actually approve offshore drilling. The one that seems most excited, Virginia, will be vetoed by the Pentagon because the Navy uses the state’s coastal waters for a variety of activities. And the oil companies don’t really have that much interest in drilling off the Atlantic, since there’s not that much oil and no pipeline delivery infrastructure to their refineries
I doubt the deal would even generate 50,000 barrels of oil a day 15 years from now. Is it really worth losing any political points in races for Congress or the presidency to (temporarily) hold back under one-1000th of the global oil supply — especially when progressives can get something real for it? Of course not. For that reason, though, congressional leaders are to be applauded for refusing to allow a simple off-or-down vote on offshore drilling. Between the 60 votes conservatives are requiring every bill to achieve in the Senate, and Bush’s commitment to veto any intelligent energy legislation, conservatives have blocked all efforts to extend the renewable energy tax credits or to enact a renewable portfolio standard, among other crucial pieces of energy legislation.

Time for a deal.
Still, I remain troubled by the language Obama has chosen to express this willingness to compromise:
“My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,” Mr. Obama told The Palm Beach Post’s Michael C. Bender. “If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage - I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.”
As I said in the other post, bringing down gas prices isn't the goal of a sensible energy policy. Not even close. That's not what we should be trading for.

And since I've never known the Democrats to make a compromise that was better than doing nothing, it strikes me as a little optimistic to think they'll start with this...