File this one under While You Were Out: the Obama Administration unveiled its new five-year energy plan on Thursday, when the rest of us were conveniently preoccupied with SCOTUS and the Holder contempt vote. Real smooth.
Of course, it's pretty clear why they wanted this to fly under the radar: as Hot Air's Erika Johnsen noted on Saturday, the plan is just not good. She points out that it opens up a miniscule percentage of our offshore resources, but not nearly enough to make a dent in our energy use, and what's more, by constraining the number of jobs that this could produce, it does nothing to help the economy. Some details:
U.S. oil companies will be allowed to drill in more areas of the Gulf of Mexico but won only limited access to the Arctic under the final version of the Obama Administration's five year drilling plan that was slammed by industry and some environmentalists.
The 2012-2017 plan calls for three potential lease sales in areas offshore Alaska but the auctions would not be held until the final years of the plan because of environmental concerns about operating in the Arctic.
"Today, the Obama Administration has announced a bleak future for American energy production by keeping 85 percent of America's offshore areas under lock and key and refusing to open any new areas to drilling," said Doc Hastings, Republican chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
The plan calls for 15 potential lease sales in six offshore areas, including in the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico, and the portion of the Eastern Gulf not currently under Congressional moratorium.
Indeed, the plan is so bad that it's been panned by everyone, from the GOP to hard-left environmentalists (who, ironically, think it's too permissive) -- but interestingly, it's produced a fair amount of unity in the Virginian Congressional delegation. Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat, has joined with his Commonwealth brethren to oppose the president's restrictive plan:
Republicans pounced on President Obama on Thursday afternoon for his administration’s failure to include Virginia in the final five-year plan for offshore oil and gas drilling.
But it wasn’t just Republicans complaining. Sen. Jim Webb (D) joined the bipartisan dissent.
“I regret that the administration failed to include Virginia in its proposed final five-year lease plan,” Webb said. “Energy exploration . . . would boost domestic energy production, while benefiting the commonwealth’s economy.”
The plan announced Thursday postpones drilling off Virginia’s coast until at least 2017.
Obama had announced that Virginia would become one of the first East Coast states to drill offshore. But the administration postponed lease sales after the spill and never included Virginia in subsequent plans.
The last study of the Atlantic Ocean by the federal government, conducted two decades ago, estimates that at least 130 million barrels of oil and at least 1.14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be off Virginia’s coast. That’s equal to the amount of oil used in six days and the amount of gas used in less than a month in the United States.
Errr, so is this what an "all of the above" energy plan looks like?
Here's a fun fact, though: the government has restricted Virginia's right to drill offshore because they don't know for certain that there's oil to be found...and they don't know that there's oil to be found because there are federal restrictions on doing the necessary research. From the same story:
Many experts think tests in similar geographic areas in other parts of the world and limited seismic work off Virginia’s coast indicate that there is far more oil and natural gas offshore, although no one has been able to show accurately what is there because of federal restrictions.
Indeed, the fact that the Obama administration released the plan on one of the busiest news days in recent history is all the more reason to take a look at it now. It's yet another reminder of the damage four more years could do, both to energy policy and job growth.