House Republicans’ Response To Obama’s Climate Plan: Drill, Baby, Drill

President Obama’s speech about climate change at Georgetown University on Tuesday laid out a comprehensive plan to deal with what ClimateProgress editor Joe Romm called “the moral urgency of cutting carbon pollution.” Not surprisingly, the President’s words have fallen on deaf ears on the Republican side of the aisle in the House of Representatives.

Today, less than a month after it was introduced, the House passed H.R. 2231, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, by a vote of 235 to 186. The bill reads like Big Oil’s Christmas list. It would open virtually all of the U.S. Atlantic coast, the Pacific coast off Southern California, and much of Alaska’s offshore space to new drilling; require the Obama administration to create a new Five-Year Plan for offshore operations; and generally perpetuate an energy agenda driven by climate deniers.

And if the bill is a Christmas list, its lead sponsor Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), is playing the role of Santa Claus. Hastings rushed the bill through the Natural Resources Committee he chairs, holding a hearing (at which I testified) just two days after introducing the bill — without giving sufficient advance notice for the Department of the Interior to even send a witness to represent the administration’s position.

The Committee website describes the legislation as “a contrast to President Obama’s no-new-drilling, no-new-jobs plan.” But the truth in this statement ends with the word “contrast.” In fact, earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal described the offshore oil and gas industry under President Obama as “booming.”

Furthermore, the Big Oil fueled coalition supporting more offshore drilling does so while completely ignoring the fact that there are other, far more effective ways to create jobs in coastal communities. According to the National Ocean Economics Program, in 2011 the ocean economy accounted for 2.7 million jobs and contributed more than $250 billion to our GDP.

Nearly 2 million of those jobs occur in fisheries, tourism, and recreation — all industries that would be put at tremendous risk by expanded offshore drilling activity.

Meanwhile, offshore minerals production supported 143,000 workers. In other words, jobs that depend on healthy, unpolluted, undeveloped ocean space outnumber oil and gas jobs 15 to 1.

Yet House Republicans continue to insist that the only way ahead for America’s energy policy is more drilling even though they have yet to pass a single piece of legislation that would make drilling safer in the aftermath of the worst offshore oil spill in the country’s history.

In March of 2011, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill released its final recommendations to improve management of offshore drilling. The Commissioners found that Congress had:

…developed a false sense of security about the risks of offshore oil and gas development. Congress showed its support for offshore drilling in a number of ways, but did not take any steps to mitigate the increased perils that accompany drilling in ever-deeper water.

Perhaps the most glaring example of Congressional inaction is that the liability cap for offshore oil spills remains at a pathetically low $75 million, while damages from Deepwater Horizon are expected to exceed $14 billion.

The Big Five oil companies made over $118 billion in profits in 2012 alone, which means together they could pay for the maximum legal liability for four offshore oil spills every day for a year, and still have profits left over. BP waived its liability cap, but there’s no guarantee the next company will be solvent enough to pay more than the law requires.

The Offshore Energy and Jobs Act is not part of a true “all of the above” energy strategy. It’s an “anything goes” energy strategy that ignores our past failures and creates a game that means — for Big Oil — to play is to win. The losers in this game are sustainable ocean and coastal industries, our marine environment, and some of our most beloved places for rest and recuperation. American prosperity will come from diversifying our economic growth, not supporting one industry at the expense of all others and tilting the playing field dramatically in favor of oil and gas companies that already dominate our economic landscape.

As President Obama put it in his remarks on Tuesday:

Our founders believed that those of us in positions of power are elected not just to serve as custodians of the present, but as caretakers of the future. And they charged us to make decisions with an eye on a longer horizon than the arc of our own political careers. That’s what the American people expect. That’s what they deserve. And someday our children and our children’s children will look at us in the eye and they’ll ask us, did we do all that we could, when we had the chance, to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world? And I want to be able to say, yes, we did.

Apparently, the 235 members of the House of Representatives who voted to give Big Oil and extremely early Christmas gift plan to give their children and grandchildren a very different answer.

21 Responses to House Republicans’ Response To Obama’s Climate Plan: Drill, Baby, Drill

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    May I ask the author, Did the President actually say anything explicit and concrete, or assert any specific policies, that would actually be in contradiction with “drill, baby, drill”?

    Did he say anything that clearly alters his own philosophy of “all of the above” — that is, anything to state explicitly that he has changed his mind on that and now as a different view?

    Did the President confront and revoke either “drill, baby, drill” or “all of the above”?

    If so, could you please quote that part of the speech, and those statements? I’m looking for something explicit and clear, not merely interpretations of nuanced statements interpreted the way we’d like to interpret them.



  2. Superman1 says:

    In case anyone didn’t notice, these House Republicans were placed in office by about half the electorate, and they are doing exactly what their constituents want. Given that we need all hands working collectively in unison if we are to have even a glimmer of a chance for solving the climate problem, it does not bode very well for success when the starting point is half actively opposed and most of the other half completely apathetic.

  3. BobbyL says:

    Obviously this bill will not get passed by the Senate but it will give the Republicans in very conservative gerrymandered districts who voted for it more ammunition in the primaries next year to fight off the challenges from candidates on their right.

  4. SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “these House Republicans were placed in office by about half the electorate”

    In fact, like most of your claims that are coherent and specific enough to be fact-checked, that one is false.

    Neither is it true that all, or even most, voters who cast votes for Republican candidates did so because Big Oil’s agenda is “exactly what they want”. Many, probably most, voted on the basis of entirely unrelated issues.

    And of course, part of Big Oil’s agenda nowadays is to preach hopelessness and defeatism in the face of global warming, and to propagate false claims that rapidly phasing out fossil fuel use will cause “a global Depression”, and will “end prosperity”, and will result in all sorts of “draconian” impacts on ordinary people.

    Which, oddly enough, is exactly what YOU do here, day after day after day.

  5. Republican ignoramuses require voter suppression to keep them in office…

  6. Nell says:

    I think we can all agree that they will not be able to hide the truth much longer. Heat wave in the west, floods in the Midwest, Canada, India and Europe… all that is just going to be too expensive to sweep under the rug.
    Right now it seems MSM is colluding with those that would sacrifice the future of civilization for money that ends up in the pockets of Big Oil and Big Coal because they’re not really giving these disasters much coverage.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It is a perfect illustration of the insanity of running a sham ‘democracy’ when half the population are of below median intelligence, and the public is relentlessly brainwashed, day after day, all their lives, by an entirely business-owned MSM, the advertising incubus and various reactionary and regressive ‘religious’ bigots.

  8. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The parasite caste plans these things carefully. The appeal to materialistic greed is both ironic, and more effective, given the rapid immiseration of the working and ‘middle’ classes in the USA, and in the other states of the Anglosphere and the West in general. Making work low paid, contingent and precarious, then luring millions into unrepayable debt, then blaming the ‘Greens’ as the cause of this misery, rather than the real culprits, the insatiably greedy rich rulers of all capitalist societies, is a clever, if typically vicious, tactic. It helps turn the dumber, greedier, more ignorant elements of the ‘loser’ majority against their own interests and those of their children, and for the very architects of their distress. The uniform service of a truly malevolent MSM is crucial to this process.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Which the Reptilican majority on the SCOTUS has just facilitated.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    That is their job, the true reason that they exist.

  11. Merrelyn Emery says:

    The scale of it is becoming known thanks to a handful of independent sources, and I never thought I’d say it, ‘social’ media, ME

  12. catman306 says:

    Only property and life insurers can rescue the world from the lunacy of the MSM, the fossil fuelers, and climate disruption deniers. The money they are losing and will continue to lose because of expensive weather disasters is very real and just might be greater than the combined worth of those fossil fuel companies. Especially if they have to keep reserves in the ground.

    I see a conflict with some very wealthy allies on reality’s side.

  13. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, Munich Re came out with a very strong statement and graphs some years ago now. And they are a big show, ME

  14. mulp says:

    Obama broke faith with Congress.

    When Republicans scream that Obama is not responsible for the first increases in oil and gas since Reagan’s policies started US oil and gas in decline, they scream that the increase is on private land.

    That means:
    – Congress is not being paid by big oil lobbyists to open up big expensive oil leases
    – big oil can’t create FUD to prevent investors putting money in wildcatters trying old tricks using modern technology
    – private landowners aren’t going to pay Congress for favors
    – small operators can’t match the big bucks Exxon and BP funnel to Congress
    – Obama has stolen the Republican hammer used on Democrats – the promise of cheaper oil and gas from drill baby drill

    Republicans are trying to put the majors back in control so they keep pouring money through their lobbyists, and the majors need all the government welfare they can get with all those small wildcatters messing up the business model.

  15. Superman1 says:

    The above is in reply to Secular!

  16. wili says:

    IIRC, more drills have been put into operation during Obama’s time in office than during the equivalent period of Bush II’s presidency.

    As repugnant as the Republicans are on this and most other issues, the Democrats have not generally shone very brightly on standing up to big ff interests (or really standing up to or for much of anything else).

    Is it time for a Green/Labor party in this country yet?

  17. Michael Conathan says:


    While the President referenced his “all of the above” strategy in the speech, he made it clear that his priority is to promote new, cleaner energy sources that will ultimately make fossils, particularly oil and coal, a lesser part of the energy mix. There was no implied or explicit suggestion that we should stop drilling. The critical difference is that Republicans continue to ignore the reality of carbon pollution all together while the White House is attempting to put us on a glide path to reducing and hopefully eliminating it. This may not be a sufficiently aggressive strategy for true climate hawks, but the contrast between the President’s vision, and the House Republican vision of America’s energy future is stark. Hope this helps.


  18. Superman1 says:

    To paraphrase Bush the Elder: Read my Lips; all of the above! No significant group of politicians in this country, or in any other country I can see, will allow fossil fuels to remain in the ground while there’s still a lucrative market for them. You can take that to the bank!

  19. Superman1 says:

    Heartily agree; that decision was probably the last nail in the box for any hope of getting sufficient Congressional majorities to over-rule the obstructive minorities.

  20. squidoy6 says:

    It’s 101 in Pasadena at 6PM right now, and 124 in Death Valley and it will get hotter there before the sun goes down but it’s finally cooling off here.

    Hot weather is normal here but not this hot. I think Obama’s timing on the new proposal for Climate Change was timed to be just before this. I’m surprised we haven’t had more wildfires, yet, but the sky has that hazy color that fires bring so maybe they’re not yet in the news…

    Most of this proposal wouldn’t fly anywhere, anytime, so it’s just window-dressing. Worthless bunch of baggers ever!

    The oil off Santa Barbara is not much different from tar sands, the Gulf is already full of rigs, and Oregon & Washington wouldn’t go for more.

    That reminds me, I have to put in my two cents on the Pebble mine! We can beat these guys next election! Keep up the good work!

  21. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Wili, anybody or party with a shred of integrity and decency who can’t be bought would do it, ME

Michael Conathan is the Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress.