Conscious of rising gas prices and targeted by increasingly noisy attacks from the right, president Obama gave a speech on energy in Florida yesterday to stem the criticism.
It was, for the most part, a very solid, reality-respecting speech. He laid into the GOP for playing politics with gas prices (which they are, quite unabashedly), opening his speech saying "Only in politics do people root for bad news, do they greet bad news so enthusiastically. You pay more; they’re licking their chops."Then, he mocked the primitivism of the Republican energy agenda at large:
You can bet that since it’s an election year, they’re already dusting off their 3-point plan for $2 gas. And I’ll save you the suspense. Step one is to drill and step two is to drill. And then step three is to keep drilling. We heard the same line in 2007 when I was running for President. We hear the same thing every year. We’ve heard the same thing for 30 years.Next, he addressed the reality of the problem: fickle market forces that spur oil price spikes and falls, like tensions in Iran. He stressed the need to continue to develop technologies that will help us move away from oil, arguing that "We can’t just allow ourselves to be held hostage to the ups and downs of the world oil market. We've got to keep developing new sources of energy."
Well, the American people aren’t stupid. They know that’s not a plan, especially since we’re already drilling. That’s a bumper sticker. It’s not a strategy to solve our energy challenge. That’s a strategy to get politicians through an election.
He again emphasized the "all of the above" slogan/strategy he borrowed from the GOP during the State of the Union Address, and attempted to cover his flank by pointing to the bevy of drilling that has taken place during his tenure thus far. From the speech:
under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That’s why we have a record number of oil rigs operating right now—more working oil and gas rigs than the rest of the world combined.You can see what he's doing here: he's trying to head off any allegation that he's weak on drilling—by allowing as much drilling as any Republican president would. Of course, that won't stop the GOP from making the same tired case that his "regulations" and rules have hamstrung their efforts to open every last pore of the United States up for fossil fuel extraction. Unfortunately, in adopting their rhetoric, Obama is also inadvertently validating their stance—despite explaining the true cause of oil price fluctuations just seconds before, he insinuates that we're solving the problem by doing exactly what he's making fun of the GOP for trying to do.
Over the last three years my administration has approved dozens of new pipelines, including from Canada. And we’ve opened millions of acres for oil and gas exploration. All told we plan to make available more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico.