Republicans on Capitol Hill have been generally positive but wary of President Obama’s announcement that he would move to open parts of the Eastern Seaboard, Gulf of Mexico, and Alaskan coastline to offshore oil drilling.
Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.) ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and bane of leftist environmentalists everywhere, said that while he “appreciate[s] the President’s apparent willingness to consider offshore drilling,” ultimately “Time will tell as to whether Obama is really ready to embrace” the idea.
“It also appears President Obama is caught in a contradiction: the President is, on the one hand, pushing forward with global warming policies to make fossil fuels more expensive, while on the other hand, he’s talking about drilling for more fossil fuels offshore,” Inhofe added. “How does the President square these two policies?”
Likewise, Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.) called the plan a “smokescreen” and warned that it “will almost certainly delay any new offshore exploration until at least 2012 and include only a fraction of the offshore resources that the previous Administration included in its plan.”
“Unfortunately, this is yet another feeble attempt to gain votes for the President’s national energy tax bill that is languishing in the Senate,” Pence said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) who has shown more willingness to work with Democrats on energy policy, was more optimistic.
“I listened with great interest to President Obama’s speech encouraging the nation to adopt comprehensive policies which allow us to become energy independent,” Graham said in a written statement. “I intend to answer the call by working with my Republican and Democratic Senate colleagues to put our nation on a pathway to energy independence and a cleaner environment.”
“The time has come for our nation to embrace comprehensive, game-changing energy policies which lead to energy independence. The incremental changes we have adopted in the past have simply led to more and more dependence on foreign oil.
Graham called the Obama proposal a “a good first step” but said “there is more that must be done to make this proposal meaningful.”
Sens. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) cautioned Americans to “read the fine print,” and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said that the “proof of the administration’s announcement will be in the implementation.”
On the other side of the aisle, reaction was mixed, rangning from measured support to fierce opposition.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D., N.M.), Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committe, Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.), and Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) all praised the plan in separate releases. But Sen. Frank Lautenberg roundly condemned it, calling it a “Kill, Baby, Kill policy.”
“Drilling off the Virginia coast would endanger many of New Jersey’s beaches and vibrant coastal economies,” stated Lautenberg. “Giving Big Oil more access to our nation’s waters is really a Kill, Baby, Kill policy: it threatens to kill jobs, kill marine life and kill coastal economies that generate billions of dollars. Offshore drilling isn’t the solution to our energy problems, and I will fight this policy and continue to push for 21st century clean energy solutions.”