That seems to be sentiment coming from Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Ken Salazar:
President Obama is shelving a plan announced in the final days of the Bush administration to open much of the U.S. coast to oil drilling, including 130 million acres off California’s coast from Mendocino to San Diego.
On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered the plan be put on hold while his agency conducts a 180-day review of the country’s offshore oil and gas resources. Salazar’s critical comments about the plan signaled that the new administration will seek to rewrite it if not completely scrap it.
The Bush proposal “opened the possibility of oil and gas leases along the entire Eastern seaboard, portions of offshore California and the far eastern Gulf of Mexico with almost no consultation from states, industry or community input,” Salazar said at a news conference in Washington. “In my view it was a headlong rush of the worst kind.”
In The Heritage Foundation’s “Key Questions for Department Nominees” series, we asked you the following question:
On October 1, 2008, the Congressional Moratorium on offshore drilling expired, but you were on record opposing lifting the moratorium even if gasoline were to reach $10 a gallon, calling it a “phantom solution.” While you never said you actually wanted the price of gas to reach such levels, will you be in favor of Congress reinstating the ban?
We even provided you with the following answer:
These restrictions effectively banned new offshore energy production off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, parts of offshore Alaska, and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Recent DOI estimates put the amount of energy in these previously off-limits areas at 19.1 billion barrels of oil and 83.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas–approximately 30 years worth of imports from Saudi Arabia and enough natural gas to power America’s homes for 17 years. It should also be noted that these initial estimates tend to be low.
Offshore drilling restrictions are a relic of the past. They were put in place at a time when energy was cheap, the need for additional domestic supplies was not seen as dire, and the political path of least resistance was to give in to environmentalists. Although oil prices have fallen from their record summer levels, they will likely return to those levels after the recession–now is not the time for complacency. Domestic energy supply is still badly needed, and the risk of producing it has been reduced.
All new drilling would be subject to strict safeguards and would require state-of-the-art technology with a proven track record for limiting the risk of spills. Rules should be put in place to allow for safe exploration and to ensure leases are not slowed by years of red tape and litigation.
Salazar promised that the voices of the oil and gas industry will be heard. Perhaps he should listen to the American Petroleum Institute’s President Jack Gerard:
Congress made the American people wait nearly 30 years to address our immediate energy challenges. Secretary Salazar today told the American people they must continue to wait – even though more than two-thirds of them want to tap our vast domestic resources for the benefit of all Americans.
Secretary Salazar’s announcement means that development of our offshore resources could be stalled indefinitely. That would delay Americans’ access to nearly 160,000 new, well-paying jobs, $1.7 trillion in revenues to federal, state and local governments and greater energy security.”