[JURIST] US President Barack Obama and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar [official profiles] announced a comprehensive energy plan [WH press release; DOI press release] Wednesday that would introduce regulations to increase offshore drilling while tightening emissions and mileage standards on vehicles. The plan would allow exploration [NYT report] off the coasts of the mid-Atlantic and southeastern states and development in previously closed areas of the Gulf of Mexico. Obama stated:
I want to emphasize that this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies on homegrown fuels and clean energy. And the only way this transition will succeed is if it strengthens our economy in the short term and the long term. To fail to recognize this reality would be a mistake.
Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) [official website], Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, opposed the plan [press release], arguing that "[e]nabling more drilling, when these sources have yet to be exhausted, only feeds our economic dependence on fossil fuels when we should be moving more aggressively to cleaner, sustainable sources of energy."
Last year, a panel for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] vacated [JURIST report] a Bush-era program that would have allowed drilling off the coast of Alaska because the Department of the Interior (DOI) [official website] had failed to carry out required studies. The ruling followed plans [JURIST report] by the Obama administration to reverse offshore drilling policies established by former president George W. Bush [JURIST news archive] at the end of his presidency. The Obama administration planned to extend the public comment period on the proposed five-year plan for offshore oil and gas development by 180 days, assembling a detailed report from DOI agencies on conventional and renewable offshore energy resources, holding four regional conferences to review these findings, and expediting renewable energy rule making.