I am going to probably annoy all my co-bloggers and most readers as well by saying that I think that Obama should just flip flop and agree to let states allow oil drilling offshore beyond a 50 mile limit, if they want to, granting this GOP policy line. While in 1969 near inshore spills ended up on beaches in Santa Barbara (triggering the nationwide ban), and there were oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Katrina, most such drilling would be relatively harmless, like that in the North Sea. Now, I am not claiming that such drilling would lower oil or gasoline prices or is any long or short term solution for US energy problems. It most definitely is not, and Obama clearly should continue to put the emphasis on conservation and better technologies as he is. However, as a strictly political matter it seems that a majority of Americans believe the GOP line on this that such drilling will help, and I fear that McCain will be able to sway some voters in certain crucial states by pushing this line, which has been picked up big time by the usual claque of commentators on Fox News and elsewhere, being endlessly and repeatedly pushed like a Big Lie.
Another line that is being pushed by these folks is that the "US has more oil than Saudi Arabia (!)" which suggests that "energy independence " might be viable, if we were only willing to go for it. The basis for such claims are the likely large amounts of shale oil the US has in western Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. However, such oil is most likely not producible at less than $95 per barrel, and I do not see the companies viewing it as sufficiently likely the price will stay above that to do it. There is also the very serious problem of enormous water requirements (and pollution resulting of multiple sorts), which are serious problems out there. Estonia is producing shale oil to get out from under reliance on the Russians, but I saw a report that they are using 91% of their water to do so. I find that number hard to believe, especially given that they have a lot of water, but even if that number is exaggerated quite a bit, it is a sign of how water-hungry shale oil production is. So, no, I see no reason for Obama to go along with that one at all.