1.5 Million Acres in the Gulf of Mexico Opened for Offshore Drilling

The Gulf of Mexico. Image: Milan Boers/CC BY 2.0

Mexico and the United States have agreed to open over a million acres the span the international boundary in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas exploration, the Hill reports. This, of course, comes not two years after the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history hit the Gulf coast.

Cleanup, restoration efforts, and economic fallout from the BP Gulf Spill have kept the spectre of the catastrophe fresh in the minds of the region's residents (if not anyone else's). But Obama is eager to be seen as "pro-drilling" in election season—especially one in which rising gas prices are likely to offer the GOP its preferred window of attack (never mind that expanding drilling doesn't lower gas prices, which are instead at the whim of global market forces).

Here's the Hill:

Under the agreement, 1.5 million acres of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf will be opened for drilling. The interior department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates there are 172 million barrels of oil in the area. Salazar said the agreement showed the Obama administration's commitment to increasing domestic energy development.

“This agreement makes available promising areas in the resource-rich Gulf of Mexico and establishes a clear process by which both governments can provide the necessary oversight to ensure exploration and development activities are conducted safely,” Salazar said in a statement released by his office Monday.

The House GOP is also seeking to expand offshore drilling in the Gulf even more drastically, in its much-derided transportation bill, but such measures have been met with strong resistance from a bipartisan coalition of representatives in the region, especially in Florida. But you can be certain of this: Gas prices are ticking upwards, it's campaign season, and we're all about to be subjected to a hell of a lot more opportunistic insistance that the nation needs more drill, baby, drilling.

Tags: Gulf Oil Spill | Oil | Oil Spill