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Major Obama shift on offshore drilling; some might be O.K.

Another sudden switch and another major slide toward the center by Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

He told a Florida newspaper today he is NOT against ALL offshore drilling for new oil resources. Switching from his previous blanket oppostion to expanded offshore drilling, Obama tells the Palm Beach Post he could get behind a compromise with Republicans and oil companies to avoid a gridlock over energy policy.An offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico off New Orlean

"The Republicans and the oil companies have been really beating the drums on drilling," Obama said in the Post interview. "And so we don't want gridlock. We want to get something done."

The freshman Illinois senator and presidential nominee-to-be added: "If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done."

The public struggle between the two parties and their candidates has been going on for weeks. And recent polls have indicated a shift by voters toward approval of careful offshore drilling as a way to increase petroleum supplies and reduce stiff gas prices.

Republican nominee-to-be John McCain was asked for a response to Obama's latest shift. The Arizona senator said: "We need oil drilling and we need it now offshore. He has consistently opposed it. He has opposed nuclear power. He has opposed reprocessing. He has opposed storage."

As political momentum appears to build for some new offshore drilling ast least along the Eastern coast, including Florida, President Bush recently rescinded one of two bans on the operations. Congress imposed one ban in 1981 and another was signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 and renewed in 1998 by President Clinton.

The current President Bush lifted the executive ban last month. But Congress, which left Washington today for yet another recess, the one a full five weeks, has not moved to change its prohibition.

Imagine that, progress through public debate.

--Andrew Malcolm

Comments () | Archives (42)

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WOW ! OK, I've lived with "political nuances" most recently the Kerry effort, however, Obama's recent statements regarding his approval to drill offshore under certain conditions strikes me as nothing less than a sellout on his part. It leaves me nimble to think that Mr. Obama had taken a number of stands of which I stood side by side with him, like ending war, nowadays that has shifted into "more brigades for Afghanistan." Then it was Hillary and Bill Clinton are welcomed to help me, to the current condition (stay away and as far as you can from me). I don't know about you, but I can certainly define these as not "nuances" but a complete abandonment of what he wanted us to believe were his deep convictions.

Another "change" for Obama, now offshore drilling. What a hypocrite. How can anyone believe a word this liar spits out of his mouth? He just cannot be trusted in the office of president and commander in chief. He looked at the polls, say that the majority of Americans are for offshore drilling, now he changes his position. The usual stuff with this arrogant self serving person.

After the fiasco in Congress today and Obama's comments on inflating tires, I do not believe Obama or most Democrats in general understand the problems of their voting constituency. As Pelosi flies to California to reside in her plush mansion, I guess the rest of America can just suck up gas prices. No, things look much clearer to me today. Do what you want, but I'll clarify my position at the voting booth in 90 days. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice...

What is he doing? This is a useless issue and how can he be for it!!! The man is stomping out all the fire under his campaign with each statement of stupidity.

Well, to all of the Obama-Fans out there, tell me how this isn't McCain scoring one against Obama? Yesterday Obama was against offshore oil drilling - today he is kind of for it? I wonder what his position will be on Monday?

Good for him. This takes yet another issue away from old McCain. It's great that Obama wants to do it along with higher fuel efficiency and more investment in renewables. And if it turns out that offshore drilling is too dangerous to the environment, Obama can call for a change after the election.

Overall, brilliant move and good politics!

thank god for us flatlanders this bad joke is almost over,the next thing we know obama will be claiming he thought of it first,this guy is unelectable,hillary better force a floor vote in denver, all fads end quickly,if the dems dont stop this electionjack there lame party will just continue to become nothing but hot air

Of course as we all know, Barack did not flip-flop on the offshore drilling issue. It was his position all along.

I guess that 70% of Americans support offshore drilling was the number that made him come out of the offshore drilling closet.

Politicians are a species all their own and Obama is vying to be outdo them all.

lol. when i saw the title of this article i said "oh no"

after reading his statements, i admire this move. look, rigidness and the inablilty to work across the aisle is exactly what Bush and McCain offer as politicians. i have come to realize that compromise is what is important. can you imagine a president who can compromise intelligently and listen to both sides of the argument?

i really hope he is elected president. we simply cannot afford rigidness in the white house. republican or democrat, right now we need compromise because it is the only way anything can be done about this economic crisis.

now, i dont hate McCain...i am a little taken aback by his slander campaign lately...but i do realize this is a bid for the presidency, and no matter what promise a politician makes to run a campaign of decency, this is hard-nosed and while i find it wrong and dirty, i cant say i blame him. how else will Obama's seemingly cakewalk be tarnished? hes gotta throw a little mud at him. I like McCain as a person, not his past ordeals with adultery or the Keating 5, but him as an American. I do, however, know many great Americans who have fought in the war but are not fit to be President. i do wish well to all, however. we are all Americans, and the bitter partisanship must end.

Obama '08

A little vague, for a news story. A Florida newspaper? Doesn't have a name or a link?

McCain seems to be left in a lurch, but what else is new?

(You need to read a little better, Tom.)

i wonder how obama's sensible action will be spun. ugh hearing the word(s) flip flop is tiring! presidential candidates don't just sit around all day; as senators they're a part of a living breathing legislative organism.. an environment that flip flops by its very design! in a strange way that's what makes our democracy great. tho i have noticed lately that mccain's campaign really knows how to spin something that's not very bad into something that's really bad! >_<

I know this will be seen by many as another (in an increasingly growing) list of Obama "flip flops", but I, for one, am glad to see him reconsidering blanket opposition in the face of extraordinary energy challenges in the US. Alternative energy must be our top priority, of course, but the US should do everything it can to mitigate our dependency on foreign oil. Even though the benefits of drilling are almost a decade away (2017 by most estimates) and relatively minor (maybe a nickel amelioration, if that), any oil supply we can shift away from the middle east stems the flow of wealth from here to there.

As for the flip-flopping, it fits a pattern Obama established with "facts on the ground" rhetoric regarding Iraq. A president should be ready to do the right thing, even if it contradicts an early policy position. That is what any politican has to do if he/she wants to put the country first.

Now, if Obama can just admit that the surge worked, I'll *really* be impressed. Come on, O, you can do it.

Again, it's just another ploy by Obama and his liberal news followers to promote his agenda of governing from the extreme left wing once "elected." He has flip-flopped on several issues to win the confidence of the advocates of that issue. It's all a plot by the Obamination to gain political power and rule the people with a liberal iron-fist.

OK, I happen to agree with him. I believe that some drilling can be done safely. that being said, he is perfectly correct in stating that it will make no difference in gas prices as we will charge what the arabs charge. the american people will get squat out of this and their beaches and fisheries will be hurt, but the oil companies MUST be rewarded for jacking up prices and destroying the economies of the world.

Let's not forget that John McCain opposed drilling too. He changed just a month or so ago.

First Obama says there is no way drilling will help oil prices come down...

Obama will say and do anything to get himself elected! When are you zombies going to wake up to this fact?

Bring Hillary back!

Is this a "sudden switch and another major slide toward the center"? It is someone being reasonable and open to an opposing viewpoint. He is saying that rather than get nothing done he would work with those that favor an opposing strategy. Too often is our political discourse made into a oversimplified cartoon of the issues. Only an unreasonable person will refuse to consider another's point of view and work with them to create a solution. Obama has always said he would reach across party lines to achieve solutions that work for everybody. Please start serving your duty as journalists and stop trying to make a fight to sell papers. We can see through you.

1. We don't drill on the land already available.
2. The bulk of the oil reserve it too far off-shore to produce any significant impact.
3. Exxon, in multiple stories on their incredible profit as recent as yesterday, as well as the industry as a whole, confirm that there is both an equipment and employee shortage within the industry.

The "new" off-shore drilling line is another quick-fix, feel good illusion. Of course oil companies would love it, any available employees/equipment could then be used to drill where it makes more economic sense to drill off the coasts (not where there's the most oil) vs. the remote areas (ie. costly) areas available today.

I only say what voters want,
You can be sure I do,
We now for oil should hunt,
Me, lie? that's not new.
I'm Obama, I make no mistakes,
I know I'm such a fake.

This is what makes Obama the ideal candidate for an ever changing world in the 21st Century. He sees offshore drilling NOW as a possible deal maker in a new energy policy that would also encompass new, higher CAFE standards for autos, newer technologies to be on the road sooner and huge fines for all oil companies and auto makers who can't put out a non-oil burning product in the next couple of years. Obama - promises to be bipartisan and means it. He's not a flip flopper...he listens...and wants to meet the needs of the people the fastest. Circumstances change..policies should too.

I think it's brilliant on two sides 1) takes the fight out of the dog, and we will see who right about how it will lower gas prices. 2) show if you want to get thing done you must compromise.

Being utterly opposed to it and declaring that there's no way in hell that it will have any effect on the situation and then to agree to go ahead and agree to it is just stupid.

Did he mean what he originally fought for or not? If it's a bad idea then why reach across the aisle? A person needs to show CONVICTION to be President!

Obama is a liar and a an entiled elitist phoney.End of story.

You know, Obama can't re-educate everyone on energy and environmental policy. He has to work with what's at hand. If making a limited and calculated compromise can provide a means to stronger environmental protections and a comprehensive energy policy, I'm 100 percent for that.

We have to remember that America does not end at La Cienega Boulevard.

Flip flopped again. Typical Chicago politician.

Those who are parroting their Republican keeper's talking points about Obama 'flip flopping' might want to take a look at McCain's previous stance about offshore drilling.
He was against it. Then he was for it. And then he received a ton a money (quadrupled donations) from the Oil industry.

Isn't it interesting, how Andrew Malcolm slants this piece?
Obama did exactly what McCain did, switching positions, yet, only Obama is mentioned as switching positions.
The Media is priceless, how it only scrutinizes Senator Obama, and is always covering McCain's back.
That said, I understand Obama's trying to show flexibility, but I'm disappointed. The problem with the Dems, has never been flexibility, it's been about showing some backbone.
And I'm afraid this latest move by Obama, exhibits Democratic politics as usual, rather than the different politics Obama is trying to portray.

"Obama Signals Support for Wider Offshore Drilling"

Obama was not in front of this proposal proving himself not to be a leader with foresight. I suspect that he is finding that the poll numbers are showing him that he was wrong. While it is nice to see that he is able to shift when he finds out that he is wrong (unlike his inability to agree that the surge worked...Men in uniform would probably like to see him back something that saves lives if we get into another messy war), we need someone who will be able to make the right decision immediately and who will stand up for good ideas even if it goes angainst the crowd. We need a unwavering, unbiased decision maker not a crowd pleaser!

Another interesting caveat to this story is that he was going to pay for an energy relief program with windfall profit tax. So is going to give that up so the companies have the money to pay for it, give up the energy relief program or concoct a program to take the windfalls and then hand out the monies where he thinks it is needed? Not the way I would like to see any government involved., ours especially. To uotea famous saying..."They can screw up a wet dream!"

Another interesting caveat to this story is that he was going to pay for an energy relief program with windfall profit tax. So is going to give that up so the companies have the money to pay for it, give up the energy relief program or concoct a program to take the windfalls and then hand out the monies where he thinks it is needed? Not the way I would like to see any government involved., ours especially. To uotea famous saying..."They can screw up a wet dream!"

oh barack obama I see through the way you pander and slither oh hillary where are you we need some help from you now.

Obama's a pragmatist interested in avoiding partisan gridlock. Making a concession like this, with a page of hedges, is entirely consistent (and appropriate).

Comments from a long time oil industry worker:

Drilling offshore California will not create an unacceptable risk to the environment (I'm an oil man) but it will result in numerous quality of life issues and other factors that the people of California may want to consider.

There will need to be several shaore bases and a lot of infrastructure. This will include lots of large supply vessels, and crew change helicopters running around.

You will have heavy truck traffic rolling down your coastal highways in some areas, twenty-four seven, hauling drill pipe, casing, drilling mud, etc. There will be new pipe yards, and faciities for the numerous supporting vendors who will be involved. These include, contractors for directional drilliling, well logging, casing crews, catering, etc.

There will need to be gas plants, slug catchers, refineries, chemical plants, etc. Some of these plants can be located far from the coast, however certain facilities such as slug catchers are usually located close to the beach.

You will only have an occasional small spill, assuming an earthquake doesn't rupture a flowline offshore. However, nobody can say with 100% certainty that a major spill can't happen.

There will be a bit of trash washing up on the beaches. I don't know why this should happen, nobody wants it to happen, but from my experiense with offshore production, when you get hundreds of people living and working offshore and all the supply vessels, a bit of trash does seem to wind up in the water.

The State of California will not share in any of the proceeds from oil or gas located far enough offshore to be in Federal waters. Louisiana and Texas don't receive royalties from the vast majority of the production in the Gulf of Mexico.

The offshore drilling will not reduce the global price of oil. Every rig in the wold is already drilling and the vast majority are drilling in places where each well produces far more oil than a well offshore California will produce. New rigs are geing built as fast as we can and there is a multi-year backlog of identified drill sites wating on a rig. Most of these wells are development wells in proven areas. If we divert drilling rigs to a new exporation area it will actually reduce global production by reducting the number of high potential development wells that could have been drilled elsewhere.

But don't worry, not that many wellls will probably actually ever be drilled off your coast, and there may or may not even be any production related activity, after we drill the exploration wells, unless we find something big. Of course, that also means that opening up California offshore to drilling won't do anything for world prices either.

I see this as Sen. Obama will to listen to reason. Advanced technology allows this to be done safely. However, if the Bush famly itself had not imposed drilling moratoria in the late 80's and 90's that oil would be in the market now. Would it have made a difference at the gas pump? Very little, if any. There are too many variables and other psychological factos influencing the price. Any energy policy based on drilling alone is like giving crack cocaine to a drug addict; we need to break our dependence and fossil fuels, both foreign and domestic sources. Offshore drilling should be a part of of the overall energy mix (as it is now), but it should not be the central feature. So, in my opinion, on this one Obama has it right and McCain simply has no idea what he is talking about. Having surrounded himself with the same advisers the Bushes had, it is easy to see how he might become confused.

Senator Obama's change of position about offshore drilling is what a true politician should do. A true politician put the people first. A true politician is not afraid to change his mind based on people's needs.
As the Fulani of Guinee say,"If the river changes its direction, the crocodile is obligated to follow it."
Guy at
Guy Blaise

Remember how many times Barack Obama claimed he pushed the wrong button? When you don't know anything, you wait for others to make a move. If It's a good move, then you join in and try to take credit for being a smart thinker and doing the right thing. This is what Obama dose. Without core values, he changes on issues whenever he thinks it will get him votes. His unstable moves and lack of knowledge, makes him a danger to the stability and freedoms of this country.

Cool the rhetoric, folks.

Obama called the Republican's bluff! This gets us off the issue and onto whether the GOP will actually vote for a compromise, including extensive development of alternative fuels. Face it, we won't get oil from this patch for 15 years - and the states have to individually approve it (not a done deal).

Meanwhile, Obama can start negotiating some effective alternatives - and some taxes on the oil companies.

Folks - with only 51 votes, the Dems are being blamed for not getting anything done. Obama's move has put the ball in the GOP court. We may get development of alternative energy on the Al Gore 10 year timetable. Without Obama's compromise, we get noting by Republican hot air.

US citizens are worthless and stupid. Just look at the other comments here. All opinions on economics where these people have no clue how economics in the US works. These brain dead people are lead by the liberal biased media. You stupid idiots want proof of bias? OK. When the monthly number of US troops killed set a record high, it was in the news for three days. Last month the Monthly death count was at its lowest since the war began in 2003. Did that make it in the liberal biased media for ONE day? No. You couldnt even find it in the news at all.

Unless they successfully treat his syndrome of the grass
hopper mind the whole Barack will come crashing down
faster than you can say flip flopper.Mind you he is constant about one thing and that is his unshakeble will
to uphold that great democrat tradition of snatching
defeat from the jaws of victory. Wishy washy sees no
evil,hears no evil.The Amadinedjahd ,Castros and Chavez
of this world would eat this guy alive.

the best stratagy that axelrod and 300 other advisers can come up with is political tic tac toe,in 43 odd years i have never witnessed such a choemelion of coats,there is no barack obama it was just a dream we all had and like all dreames we wake from them,bring on the profesional political blogers,they like to tell people they are stuip or there spelling is wrong,id rather my words be mispelled than my thoughts meeningless delusions

Obama is accepting a compromise on oil drilling in order to get renewable energy tax credits passed when Congress gets back from its break. He is accepting a compromise now because the Senate Republicans just demonstrated, once again, that they will shoot down renewable energy tax credits if they don't get expanded oil drilling. Being forced to make a choice between two things that you want is not "flip-flopping" on your position. In my opinion, Obama has made the right choice here, and I fully support it.

Obama vs. McCain.

This is a matter of opinion so my reader may not agree. However, I strongly believe this is a no brainer. It’s time for someone and something new, period. When talking about issues, Republicans will say yes, McCain is right on the issues. Democrats will go on and say Obama is right on the issues. I feel getting into a debate on issues and arguing over who is more right than the other (especially in blogs) can at times be counterproductive. Certainly it has the potential to be productive, though in the end, generally speaking, opinions will always be divided.

So one way to get around debating on all the issues is to limit myself to discussion on just one - the TERM LIMIT theory for my argument on voting a party other than Republican in office. It can be as simple as that.
For those concerned with experience, one consideration would be to either vote for either Biden or McCain, depending on your party.

For those who are less concerned about experience and focus more on real politics, then you ought to know that experience doesn’t define the candidate anyway. It is true, no one is really ready to be president. But I prefer someone who has the artistic and creative intuition and vision to figure out solutions to problems as they surface, those who have the ability to jump into something new and effectively pick it up, in his own unique way - like Keith Moon for instance (hehe). Obama is that person. McCain will most likely stick to his Republican ways. Obama, I feel, has greater intuition which allows him to be flexible on issues rather than be static, and this is a characteristic that’s imperative in the ever-changing world on which we all live. Bob Dylan would agree.

If you’re an independent or an undecided Republican and if all of the arguments you’ve heard continue to fail in helping you make a decision, consider this: I believe it would be wise to make a switch and put a Democrat in office this time around. It’s been 8 long years since the Bush administration first took the seat, and I believe it is healthy, just like term limits are healthy, to now rotate toward the other party. The world is honestly sick of our Republican-isms. Democrats are just as American and patriotic as Republicans, so having a Democrat in office will be a good thing by default. I am actually a registered Republican, but that should be an easy fix.
Obama is the right choice.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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