Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Obama puts the "O" in Offshore Oil drilling

Bizarre announcement today by President Obama. Oil drilling off the East Coast? The plan, Obama said in the New York Times, would "balance the need to produce more domestic energy while protecting natural resources." It would allow drilling along the Atlantic coast, just offshore from my old Daytona Beach haunts, all the way up the coast to the Delmarva Peninsula. There also would be more drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska. This signals the end of a moratorium on exploration from Delaware to Daytona, an area that covers about 167 million acres of ocean.

I've always been astonished that the McCain/Palin "Drill, Baby, Drill" crowd would want to see drilling along the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf. I was equally astonished that Southern Congressional Republicans would want drilling in their own backyards. Do they really want all of those coastal Repub retirees stepping in globs of goo on their pristine beaches and then writing scads of complaining e-mails to D.C.? I think not. One thing you can count on with retirees: they complain and they vote. They also like their beaches free of goo.

Most Americans seem O.K. with oil drilling in the country's beachless locales. Wyoming, for instance. Oklahoma too. They also are very tolerant of digging coal out of Wyoming's cold, windswept prairie -- or blowing the tops off of West Virginia mountains. Who cares about those cowpokes in Wyoming and the hillbillies of Appalachia? If they really counted, if they were people with clout, they would live on North Carolina's Outer Banks or Georgia's Sea Islands or on Sanibel or even along Florida's Redneck Riviera.

So far, Repubs have been lukewarm to Pres. Obama's plan to "Drill, Baby, Drill." Perhaps they are just being their old obstructionist selves. Or perhaps they have nightmares of what could happen once the gooey byproducts of oil drilling hits the beaches. The envision legions of indignant golf-cart-driving codgers converging on D.C. They halt Beltway traffic and march on Congressional offices. They wave their putters and shout unintelligible slogans. They track oily black sneaker prints through the corridors of power. Security won't stop them, as the protesters look too much like their grandma and grandpa in St. Pete. In fact, they really are grandma and grandpa from St. Pete. "Get out of the way sonny -- those damn oil-drilling, goo-spilling politicians have to be stopped."

This offshore oil drilling plan may be a harder sell that Obama imagines.

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