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Upset about oil spill, Obama changes tune on drilling

Birds sit at water surrounded by oil booms on Breton Sound Island in the Gulf of Mexico April 29, 1020 by Reuters
In the wake of the disastrous oil spill spewing in the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of 210,000 gallons a day, the Obama administration is backtracking from plans to authorize new off-shore oil drilling off the coasts of Alaska and Florida.

Many species are already suffering and worse is expected as the looming environmental disaster barrels toward the Gulf states. Migrating birds, nesting pelicans, river otters and mink along Louisiana's fragile islands and barrier marshes -- all are endangered. Still, enviros everywhere probably see a silver lining.

A few weeks ago, President Obama announced to great fanfare that he would open up the Atlantic coastline and some other areas to offshore drilling, part of a political strategy to attract votes from moderates and conservatives for a comprehensive energy package.

Now, the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard are trying valiantly to stop the massive oil spill from damaging the Gulf Coast. Criticism is mounting about whether the feds did enough in the early days in response to the crisis. The White House is worried about the potential economic and ecological fallout. So, after ordering an investigation into what happened and why, Obama changed his tone.

In Rose Garden remarks meant to showcase the improving economy, Obama pivoted to talk about the oil rig explosion. Arguing that oil company BP is ultimately responsible, Obama said he continues to support oil drilling as part of an energy package, "but I've always said it must be done responsibly, for the safety of our workers and our environment."

Pressed to explain the apparent presidential turn-about, White House adviser David Axelrod said on ABC's "Good Morning America," "All he has said is that he is not going to continue the moratorium" on drilling. As for moving forward, he added, "No additional drilling has been authorized, and none will until we find out what happened here and whether there was something unique and preventable here."

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Birds sit in water surrounded by oil booms on Breton Sound Island in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday. Credit: Reuters

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What a wonderful plan to drill in an area that barely can be reached by humans , now look , a huge disaster that noone knows how to fix let alone stop ..... people are ruining this world ! now what about all the animals that are going to lose their lives because some person was so consumed by money that they couldnt even think straight. Im sorry but money is not the most important thing in this world!!!!!!! with so much technology nobody can come up with a plan to stop the oil let alone clean it up . The people of the country are going to suffer too ; get ready to pay 4 or 5 dollars a gallon for gas. Really though the very first concern is how to protect all the animals if we lose several species then what? they are here for a reason they all do their parts in this world someone needs to start evacuating these animals as much as possible stick them in zoos, vacant property something ! your not doing as much as you could be. We can get to the moon and other planets BUT cannot stop oil from coming out of the earth ? how rediculous is that?

Oil destroys our environment when we burn it and pump it into our atmosphere. Oil kills when we spill it into the ocean.

BAN OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING PERMANENTLY !!!

We need to get off of fossil fuels immediately and implement alternative energy solutions that don't involve toxic substances such as petroleum.

Only the greediest, coldest, and most calloused human beings could still be pro-fossil fuels given all of the damage to our planet that they cause.

Anyone who believes that offshore drilling should continue needs to go take a swim in the Gulf of Mexico....

Obama is responsible for protecting this country. There was no quick action from him on the oil spill. Was he out playing golf? George Bush was totally demonized for his slow response on Katrina. Where is the outrage from the press over Obama doing nothing to try to stop the oil spread?

Obama never wanted to drill for oil because his left insisted it not be done. He now have what he thinks is a good reason not to drill. It's a little odd that this spill happened at this time! America still needs to drill for it's own oil.

Super Absorbent GOP Floaters can clean this up...

The catastrophe is enormous. Our need for oil is enormous. Maybe we should begin to drive smaller cars, close the lights in Las Vegas stop using the air con and a lot of other things that USA could do to minimize the need for oil. As it is right now the interests in oil are simply too big and needed.
Blaming Obama before blaming the population is the easy way out.

Society as a whole is guilty, let's be honest. Every single one of us is responsible for the consumption of oil in SOME FORM or ANOTHER. Honestly people, the only way earth will ever be clean, is if we become practically like the Amish. People want to believe they can have modern lifestyle but not kill the planet, well, this is not true, it's either temporary luxury for us which destroys the gift of life for this miracle called earth, or, we stop being selfish and start living off the land like our ancestors even as recent as 150 years ago. There is no in between, it's one or the other, and I believe society will not and can not overcome it's selfishness, if we could, then this would not have happened.

I believe this has been tackled well by the US goverment so far. Pushing BP not to pay divends was the right thing to do. This disaster will most likely turn out to be a lesson that all learned from and will avoid similar things to happend in the future- now it is only to pray that the enviroment was not harmed to badly and that BP will manage to clean up the big mess.


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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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