According to President Obama, the only path to energy independence is greater addiction! Or something:
Reversing a ban on oil drilling off most U.S. shores, President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced an expansive new policy that could put oil and natural gas platforms in waters along the southern Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and part of Alaska.
“This announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy. And the only way this transition will succeed is if it strengthens our economy in the short term and long term.”
But this is completely and utterly wrongheaded.
Let’s get two basic facts straight about the oil economy: 1) the US produces a tiny fraction of the oil it consumes; and 2) the price of fuel is dictated by global commodity prices. What these facts mean is that drilling in US coastal waters will have a negligible impact on prices — and absolutely zero effect in the short term — and do essentially nothing to staunch the massive outflows of American money to the worst parts of the globe to pay for oil imports.
In other words, expanding domestic oil production is a pointless economic strategy.
He added: “To fail to recognize this reality would be a mistake.”
Really? Because it seems to me that the real mistake is doing permanent damage to fragile marine ecosystems, amping up the nation’s already gigantic carbon emissions, and, if anything, actually worsening the nation’s addiction to an expensive substance we fundamentally cannot supply for ourselves.
Obama made no secret of the fact that one factor in his decision was securing Republican support for a sweeping climate change bill that has languished in Congress.
Look, a sweeping climate change bill is crucially important, but why, why, why on earth would anyone responsible lead with this massive giveaway to the oil industry?
Expanded coastal drilling is the kind of bitter pill that one could argue about swallowing for the sake of a filibuster-busting 60th vote, or for a genuinely science-driven carbon cap, or full auctioning of carbon permits. But it is a terrible price to pay, and it does real and lasting harm to the world.
This post originally appeared at Sightline’s Daily Score blog.
Get Grist in your inbox