Obama has a plan to open some areas off the East Coast and in the Arctic Sea to offshore drilling. The areas were previously off-limits, and they would be evaluated by the Interior Department before leases were given, according to stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post. This is presumably meant to get conservative support for climate legislation. From the Times:
The Senate is expected to take up a climate bill in the next few weeks — the last chance to enact such legislation before midterm election concerns take over. Mr. Obama and his allies in the Senate have already made significant concessions on coal and nuclear power to try to win votes from Republicans and moderate Democrats. The new plan now grants one of the biggest items on the oil industry’s wish list — access to vast areas of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling.
Because that worked so well with the health-care bill. There will be a lag, and there are likely to be some areas with oil where drilling won't be economically feasible, so it's possible little drilling will take place as a result of this measure. And it's not like Obama said he didn't support off-shore-drilling expansion as a candidate, but this announcement is still a disappointment. The gains are likely to be small, the risks are huge, and it puts politics over evidence.
-- Monica Potts