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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Obama on drilling: 'We need to move beyond the tired debates between right and left'



Excerpts of President Obama's remarks, which he just started, on oil drilling.

... This is not a decision that I’ve made lightly. It’s one Ken (Salazar) and I – as well as Carol Browner, my energy adviser in the White House, and others in my administration – looked at closely for more than a year.  But the bottom line is this: given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth, produce jobs, and keep our businesses competitive, we’re going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy.

So today we’re announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration – but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America’s natural resources.  Under the leadership of Secretary Salazar, we’ll employ new technologies that reduce the impact of oil exploration.  We’ll protect areas vital to tourism, the environment, and our national security.  And we’ll be guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence.

That's why my administration will consider potential new areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, while studying and protecting sensitive areas in the Arctic.  That’s why we’ll continue to support development of leased areas off the North Slope of Alaska, while protecting Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

There will be those who strongly disagree with this decision, including those who say we should not open any new areas to drilling.  But what I want to emphasize is that this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy.  And the only way this transition will succeed is if it strengthens our economy in the short term and long term.  To fail to recognize this reality would be a mistake.

On the other side, there will be those who argue that we do not go nearly far enough; who suggest we open all of our waters to energy exploration without any restriction or regard for the broader environmental and economic impact. They’d deny the fact that with less than 2 percent of oil reserves, but more than 20 percent of world consumption, drilling alone cannot come close to meeting our long-term energy needs, and that for the sake of the planet and our energy independence, we need to begin the transition to cleaner fuels now.

Ultimately, we need to move beyond the tired debates between right and left, between business leaders and environmentalists, between those who would claim drilling is a cure all and those who would claim it has no place.  Because this issue is just too important to allow our progress to languish while we fight the same old battles over and over again.

For decades we’ve talked about how our dependence on fossil fuels threatens our economy – yet our will to act rises and falls with the price of a barrel of oil.  For decades we’ve talked about the threat to future generations posed by our current system of energy – even as we can see the mounting evidence of climate change from the Arctic Circle to the Gulf Coast.  And for decades, we’ve talked about the risks to our security created by our dependence on foreign oil – even as that dependence has grown year after year after year.

And while our politics has remained entrenched along worn divides, the ground has shifted beneath our feet.  Around the world, countries are seeking an edge in the global marketplace by investing in new ways of producing and saving energy.  From China to Germany, these nations recognize that the country that leads the clean energy economy will be the country that leads the global economy.  Meanwhile, here at home, as politicians in Washington debate endlessly whether to act, our own military has determined that we can’t afford not to.


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:25am]


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