Obama Strikes Out, But Anti-Oil Inning Isn’t Over
Barack Obama’s boneheaded policy (or brilliant strategy depending on where you sit) of effectively banning drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico via moratoriums and then “permitoriums”, is looking either triple stupid or triple brilliant (again, as to where you sit) today as one court saga winds down and another gets going. Let’s review. The Obama administration imposed a moratorium on drilling in the wake of the BP/Macondo spill. Then they had to defend it in court where they took drubbing after drubbing for basically arbitrary – extra-legal, non-scientific – restrictions on drilling. Well, Obama’s legal string has come to its end as the government was forced to settle one of the key legal disputes by promising to actually conduct its regulatory policy honestly:
On May 10, 2011, the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana (following up on a preliminary injunction from February) issued a summary judgment regarding six permit applications that required the BOEMRE to act within 30 days. With the time running out yesterday, the Justice Department settled with Ensco Offshore.
Now under the terms of the settlement agreement filed with the court’s yesterday, the “defendants are to act on those of the six permit applications that are presently before the defendants no later than July 8, 2011.”
But just as the government has reached the end of one legal string, another starts anew as the radical, anti-hydrocarbon-at-all-costs crowd fires up their death-by-lawsuit machine.
Environmental groups Thursday sued the Obama administration over its approval of a Shell plan to drill for oil deep under the Gulf of Mexico.
The suit was the opening salvo in what could be a lengthy legal fight over U.S. drilling policy following the resumption of oil and gas exploration after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. It came a day after ExxonMobil announced one of the largest oil discoveries ever in the Gulf, signaling that as oil companies use newly issued federal permits to return to the area after last year’s oil spill, they are also likely to face more legal battles.
So this where the strategy is either triple stupid or triple brilliant. Stupid number one was that the moratorium was a bad trade – you got no improvement in safety for higher gas prices and real economic damage in the Gulf region. Stupid number two is you have to enter the court system to defend your bad trade only to get drubbed, so now you’ve been shown to have dubious legal arguments backing up your dumb policy. Stupid number three is that after you have totally failed, you’ve somehow managed to create a space of opportunity for the nutty enviros to come in and gum things up more with their silly lawsuits. So the high gas prices, the economic devastation in the region persist and the zero impact on safety get dragged out for Gods knows how long. This is triple stupid for a President that needs every last damn job and every piece of economic good news he can get in order to get re-elected.
Or, it’s triple brilliant. If you don’t give a rat’s arse about jobs, gas prices and all that, you shut off drilling via your executive authority but you know that can’t last too long. Then you use a regulatory policy to effectively continue the drilling prohibition despite not having a legal ground to stand on. Finally, when the courts have shot you down, you’ve sowed enough doubt and thus created space for your radical anti-hydrocarbon allies to swoop in and keep the system in shackles. Result: you’ve messed with the oil industry for well over a year and counting and set bad precedents that could last God knows how long, and you can run for re-election saying this is why we need more solar power. Mission Accomplished.
Problem is most Americans are hip to this angle and nobody wants to drive the glorified golf carts that your dream demands we drive.