This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
Anyone new to the way Americans argue in public these days would be stupefied by the reactions to President Obama’s new offshore drilling plan.
One environmental leader said Obama was “unleashing a wholesale assault on the oceans.” The head of the Sierra Club described it as a giveaway of “our last protected pristine coastal areas just so oil companies can break more profit records.”
But many drilling advocates said the plan – announced Wednesday – was mere camouflage for Obama’s continuing vendetta against oil and gas development. Washington’s own U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings described it as a scheme that “closes off more areas than it opens.”
Obama, almost parodying his usual above-the-fray rhetoric, talked about moving beyond “the tired debates of the left and right … between those who would claim drilling is a cure-all and those who would claim it has no place.”
The truth is that Obama’s plan is a lot more restrictive than the policies he inherited from George W. Bush and a lot more expansive than drilling opponents would like. He would lock up – for political as well as environmental reasons – the West Coast, everything north of Delaware on the Atlantic Coast and Alaska’s Bristol Bay.
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