Don’t expect policy changes from Obama

Freedom New Mexico

When President Barack Obama promised this week to open 75 percent of potential offshore gas and oil resources to drilling and praised the controversial fracking method for extracting untapped oil reserves on land, a collective shudder went through his green constituency. Welcome to election-year rhetoric.

The green lobby is learning what other loyal Democratic Party constituencies have learned about being taken for granted. Like blacks and union members before them, the green lobby is discovering that, despite promises to champion their cause, re-election campaign rhetoric commands higher priority. It’s safe for the president to offend loyalists. To whom would they flee? Not likely to Republicans.

We probably are more confident than the greens are that the president won’t abandon their cause in any significant way. That’s too bad because, despite environmentalists’ trepidation, if Obama actually meant what he said in his State of the Union speech, it would be good news for American energy. Alas, we fear it was mostly hollow campaign chatter. If he is reelected, his newfound energy emphasis probably will fade as quickly as Republican smiles.

Only Richard Nixon could go to China, wags said at the time, because his anti-communist credentials assured that he could make the overture without raising doubts about his loyalty.

Potentially, Obama’s reference to “a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years” and his promise to “take every possible action to safely develop this energy” could be akin to Nixon’s China trip.

But does the president, heretofore champion of all things green, really intend to pursue more drilling? We suspect not, even though it would greatly benefit the nation, ease reliance on unstable Middle East oil and help meet growing domestic demands.

We believe it more likely that Obama’s statements were gratuitous, not serious, intended to deflect critics of his dismal energy record and his foolish over-emphasis on so-called clean energy. He no doubt hopes to buy votes from independents and gullible Republicans. He probably will pay little price for appearing less green.

Nevertheless, reaction in the green zone appeared to take seriously Obama’s professed new affinity for fossil fuels. “President Obama announced a potential environmental nightmare when he called tonight for more than 75 percent of offshore oil and gas resources to be exploited,” wailed Greenpeace. The president, who had promised no compromise on oil spills, “has approved oil exploration in the Arctic,” the advocacy group complained.

The Obama administration’s track record is a better indicator of future performance than his campaign oratory. America’s recent boom in domestic oil production, for instance, occurred thanks to market pressures and despite, not thanks to, the president’s policies.

“The one person who deserves no credit for this boom is Barack Obama,” Warrren Meyer wrote in Forbes. “This administration has bent over backward to make oil and gas production and exploration as difficult as possible.”

We don’t anticipate much policy change should the president be re-elected, irrespective of temporary qualms among environmentalists.