An Obama administration official says that President Obama has canceled the August offshore drilling lease sale in the Western Gulf and the lease sale off the coast of Virginia.
The announcement comes as the president and his administration face increased criticism for the failure of BP and the government to plug the leak and further contain the significant ecological damage to the region, and as he prepares to travel to the Gulf for a second time tomorrow.
“The president’s eyes have been opened” as to the risks of offshore drilling, a senior White House official tells ABC News, in terms of the inability of the Minerals Management Service to reliably regulate the industry, and the inaccuracy of claims by the oil industry that companies are able to stop catastrophes like these from happening, and in the event that they do happen that the industry can contain the damage.
All of those assumptions have been proven false, the senior White House official told ABC News. So for now projects are being canceled or delayed.
After sixteen months in office, and after going out on a big limb in relation to his environmental Left, Obama has only just noticed the problem at MMS? One might think that a competent executive would have reviewed the infrastructure for regulation on drilling, which has always been a risky but necessary activity for a nation as dependent on energy as the US. After all, in announcing the expansion of off-shore drilling less than two months ago, Obama certainly knew the political risks, which directly related to the perceived environmental risks.
Is the White House now admitting that no one undertook a review of these risks and the manner in which the federal government could minimize them before announcing the expansion? Did Ken Salazar even get asked about it, or did Obama make a purely political decision off the cuff? If the White House did investigate it, what did Obama get told by Salazar, and what did Salazar do to conduct a rational evaluation of MMS and risks associated with deep-water drilling? From here, it looks as though no one at the White House even bothered to check into MMS and its response plans until the national media began reporting on all of its failures.
If Obama hopes to get off the hook by canceling his eight-week-old drilling initiative, then he’s very much mistaken. The Left may feel temporarily vindicated by this decision, but the White House management of the oil-drilling issue has been incompetent since Day 1. It looks like more than just British Petroleum and Transocean are out of their depth.