Barack Obama opened the door to offshore drilling on Friday, saying, “My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices. If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.” Obama said he backed a new compromise energy package that was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators on Friday; it calls for some new offshore drilling as well as increased investment in clean energy and a push to reduce oil consumption.
On Monday, Obama is outlining a “New Energy for America” plan, which aims to provide an “energy rebate” to taxpayers, create 5 million new green jobs, and eliminate dependence on Mideast oil within a decade.
John McCain said on Friday that new offshore drilling could add to the U.S. oil supply within months, saying he heard it straight from the mouth of oil company executives — even though the federal Energy Information Administration and other energy experts say opening new offshore areas wouldn’t significantly affect prices or supply for years.
Congress adjourned for an August recess on Friday without passing any energy legislation, despite lots of big talk about fighting high gas prices. Democrats tried to push through measures to curb oil-market speculation, release some oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and extend tax credits for renewable energy, but Republicans blocked all the bills because they didn’t clear the way for additional oil drilling.