For years, the Teamsters have supported opening the Arctic Refuge and other protected areas to oil drilling; they ran ads bashing John Kerry on it in 2004. So it is a Very Big Deal that the Teamsters have just come out and rejected drilling as a solution to the energy crisis.

At an event in Oakland, Calif., Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said that drilling won’t do anything to help; he announced that the Teamsters are withdrawing from the coalition pushing for Arctic drilling; and he stressed that pushing for "alternate energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal power" will revitalize the economy and create jobs.

It looks like reality is finally starting to bite in American politics.

UPDATE: Kate called up Teamsters spokeswoman Leigh Strope for more on the move.

“Americans are suffering in this difficult economy,” said Strope. “[President Hoffa] really realized, like a lot of people have, that there needs to be a long-term energy solution. Like he said, we can’t drill our way out of this problem … We need a comprehensive energy policy to deal with this crisis.”

“It’s important to our members,” Strope continued. “There’s an opportunity to really explore the whole issue of green jobs, and that would obviously benefit Teamsters and all Americans.”