Obama Drills Baby, Drills

By Bill Maher

In January, President Obama announced he would seek to designate most of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a wilderness area, which is the ultimate layer of environmental protection. And we Sierra Club types loved it because ANWR, along with the Keystone Pipeline, have become symbols, referendums on how serious an environmentalist you are. They’re our lines in the tar sand. And when politicians stand up against the oil and gas industries, we applaud their courage. …And then don’t notice that two days after that ANWR announcement, the administration, somewhat more quietly, proposed opening up parts of the southeastern U.S. coastline, from Virginia to Georgia, for oil leasing.

Then, last Friday, the Obama administration finalized its recommendation to designate over 12 million acres of the ANWR as wilderness, once again, to cheers and applause from environmentalists …who mostly didn’t notice that on Tuesday of that same week, the administration approved Royal Dutch Shell's return to oil and gas exploration in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. That’s notable because three years ago Shell tried to drill for oil there and experienced what The New York Times called “a series of costly and embarrassing accidents in its efforts to drill exploratory wells.” And because the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has said there is a 75 percent chance of “one or more large spills.”

Is ANWR just a shiny object being used to distract environmentalists from the Obama administration’s pro-oil industry rulings?