It took them a week and a half, but The Washington Post editorial board has finally noted the absurdity of President Barack Obama’s support for oil drilling … in other countries. From today’s paper:
When was the last time an American president stood before an audience in a foreign country and announced that he looked forward to importing more of its oil? Answer: Just over a week ago, when President Obama joined political and business leaders in Brasilia in hailing the fact that their newly discovered offshore petroleum reserves might be twice as large as those in the United States. Americans “want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers,” Mr. Obama said.
As for offshore drilling, Mr. Obama’s enthusiasm for punching holes in the ocean floor off Brazil is hard to reconcile with his decision, announced Dec. 1, to keep the waters off the East and West coasts and the eastern Gulf of Mexico off-limits to exploration indefinitely. His policy was a reversal of an earlier decision he had made to open some of those areas. We can understand that reversal, after the massive oil spill in the western Gulf last year. And, demonstrating a measure of flexibility even after the disaster, the administration has announced five deep-water drilling permits in the western Gulf since the spill.
Heritage analysts Nicolas Loris and John Ligon have detailed just how much energy President Obama is leaving undeveloped here in the United States:
* Access onshore and offshore: At least 19 billion barrels of easily recoverable oil lie off the currently restricted Pacific and Atlantic coasts and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Another 19 billion barrels estimated to be in the Chukchi Sea off the Alaskan coast are inaccessible because of onerous regulations, such as acquiring air-quality permits. The U.S. Environmental Appeals Board invalidated the Environmental Protection Agency’s permit approval for that area after appeals from environmental groups. Another obvious and senseless restriction is in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where an estimated 10 billion barrels of oil lie beneath a few thousand acres that can be accessed with minimal environmental impact. Those 10 billion barrels are equivalent to 16 years’ worth of imports from Saudi Arabia at the current rate.
* Access to oil shale: According to the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management, there are 800 billion barrels (a moderate estimate) of recoverable oil from oil shale in the Green River Formation, which goes through Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. This is three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. While the technology is still developing and environmental considerations need to be taken into account, the Administration should not create onerous restrictions stifling commercial investment in research and technology that would make the process economically viable and safe for the environment.