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PolitiFact: Obama's drilling stance changed before

The stance

Obama on oil drilling

The ruling

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced that he would open new coastal areas to oil production.

"As we transition to cleaner energy sources, we'll have to make tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development in ways that protect communities and coastlines," he said. "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."

In 2008, we gave him a Half Flip because early in his campaign he said he intended to maintain the ban on drilling off the Florida coast. Then, amid soaring gas prices that summer, he said he was receptive to a compromise plan to open new areas for drilling.

By the time he won the White House, Obama was squarely behind new efforts to produce more oil domestically.

We wondered if Wednesday's announcement, which would open even more areas for drilling, including some originally proposed under the Bush administration, meant Obama had shifted further.

His strategy calls for developing oil and gas resources in new areas, including in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and increasing exploration in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

We asked a number of environmental groups if they thought the announcement represented a dramatic shift for the Obama administration, and the resounding response is that they oppose the plan but that it's no surprise given where Obama was on the issue the day he won office.

Josh Borner of the Sierra Club said it "doesn't seem to be a huge step away from where he ended up at the end of the campaign. We're disappointed, but we're not surprised."

So, has Obama gone from a Half Flip to a Full Flop on the issue of offshore drilling? Not if you're basing the ruling on his position on election day.

In August 2008, he did change his stance. This time, it isn't much of a departure from recent rhetoric. So we say there's been No Flip in Obama's stance on offshore drilling.

Catharine Richert, Times staff writer

PolitiFact: Obama's drilling stance changed before 03/31/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 9:00pm]
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