Monday, November 17, 2008

Parsing Obama on Drilling

Posted By on Mon, Nov 17, 2008 at 3:59 PM

??In nine weeks, President George Bush must vacate the Oval Office to make room for President-elect Barack Obama, and those nine weeks promise to be loaded with one surprise after another. Already, Obama says he plans to make an immediate impact by nixing some of the executive orders issued by the GOP administration. He told reporters last week that he is reviewing the possibilities of lifting a ban on stem-cell research and closing the Guantánamo Bay Detention Center, where suspected and convicted terrorists are held. 

The president-elect, who didn’t have the most pro-oil record going into the race for the White House, also may stop the Bureau of Land Management from opening some 360,000 acres to domestic drilling. Louisiana is an oil-and-gas state, and money generated from drilling helps pay for coastal restoration projects, road overhauls and other vital public needs. 

??Congressman Charlie Melancon, a Napoleonville Democrat who endorsed Obama earlier this year, says not to worry — yet. For starters, the executive order Obama is reviewing involves environmentally sensitive areas of Utah and has nothing to do with Louisiana. Additionally, Melancon says, Obama could prove to be more moderate on drilling and exploration once he takes office. “You can always come up with some speculation, but my feeling is, my hope is, he won’t move to curtail action in the Gulf of Mexico or the Outer Continental Shelf,” Melancon says. “And this decision regarding Utah could be good for us because it’ll put more demand on Louisiana to produce.” — Jeremy Alford

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