Obama's Pro-Drilling Announcement Alienates Northwest Enviros

They look so pretty at sunset.
"Today we're announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration," President Obama said this morning in the company of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and others that he described as his "Green Team". Obama justified his decision saying that it was necessary in the short-term, even as the government puts money into pursuing other energy sources (like nuclear). "To fail to recognize this reality would be a mistake," he said.

Northwest environmentalists aren't convinced. Even the more practical-minded like eco-think tank Sightline Institute and alternative-energy-pushing Congressman Jay Inslee, both of whom offer tepid support for nuclear power, immediately weighed in. They called the president's decision "stupid" and a "drill, baby, drill" policy. If you ever wondered just what it would take for the president to so piss off his once-adoring Puget Sound base as to earn a Sarah Palin comparison, this is it.

Ninety minutes after the president's announcement, Sightline energy researcher and blogger Eric de Place had worked up a 400-word rant calling the policy "just plain stupid". With regard to the president's "mistake" comment, de Place wrote (his emphasis): "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."

Inslee who co-authored a 2008 book entitled Apollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean-Energy Economy, dashed out a statement with a similar critique and calling on the president to instead "innovate, baby, innovate".

In his speech Obama made it clear he was expecting blowback from environmentalists. But if he was hoping appeals to pragmatism might help them swallow that pill, looks like here in the Northwest at least, the answer is: not a chance.

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