Presidential Candidate Obama Slammed Opponent McCain’s Offshore Drilling Plan as ‘Political Posturing from Washington’

By Penny Starr | March 31, 2010 | 6:43 PM EDT

President Barack Obama (AP Photo)

( – President Barack Obama’s announcement to lift the ban on offshore drilling for oil along some of the U.S. coastline contrasts sharply with what he said as a candidate on the campaign trail in the summer of 2008.
In June 2008, Obama slammed his Republican rival John McCain (Ariz.) for his support of opening the nation’s coastline for oil exploration and drilling, calling it “political posturing” and an ineffective way to gain energy independence.
He also accused McCain of flip-flopping on his support of a moratorium on offshore drilling in 2000, a position Obama said was “certainly laudable.”
“But his decision to completely change his position and tell a group of Houston oil executives exactly what they wanted to hear today was the same Washington politics that has prevented us from achieving energy independence for decades,” Obama said in a statement on June 17, 2008. 
“Much like (McCain’s) gas tax gimmick that would leave consumers with pennies in savings, opening our coastlines to offshore drilling would take at least a decade to produce any oil at all, and the effect on gasoline prices would be negligible at best since America only has three percent of the world's oil. 
“It's another example of short-term political posturing from Washington, not the long-term leadership we need to solve our dependence on oil,” Obama said.
On a campaign swing through Florida, Obama spoke out against offshore drilling as ineffective and political.
“The politics may have changed, but the facts haven't,” Obama was quoted as saying in a June 21 article on “Offshore drilling would not lower gas prices today. It would not lower gas prices tomorrow. It would not lower gas prices this year. It would not lower gas prices five years from now. ...”
The article said that Obama was in northeast Florida for a private fundraising reception expected to bring in at least $300,000, and that he held an impromptu press conference to “weigh in on drilling.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. listens during remarks of the Fiscal Responsibility Summit, hosted by President Barack Obama, not pictured, Monday, Feb. 23, 2009, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

On Wednesday, March 31, in a speech billed as addressing the nation’s “energy security, Obama announced a five-year plan that includes opening-up waters along some portions of the U.S. mainland and Alaska for oil exploration and production.
“But the bottom line is this:  Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth and produce jobs, and keep our businesses competitive, we are going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy,” Obama said.
“So today we’re announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration, but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America’s natural resources,” the president said. “Under the leadership of Secretary Salazar, we’ll employ new technologies that reduce the impact of oil exploration.  We’ll protect areas that are vital to tourism, the environment, and our national security.  And we’ll be guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence. 
“That's why my administration will consider potential areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, while studying and protecting sensitive areas in the Arctic,” Obama said. “That’s why we’ll continue to support development of leased areas off the North Slope of Alaska, while protecting Alaska’s Bristol Bay.”
Obama also referenced his critics who had hoped the president would stick to his campaign promise of opposing lifting the drilling moratorium that has been in place for two decades.
“Ultimately, we need to move beyond the tired debates of the left and the right, between business leaders and environmentalists, between those who would claim drilling is a cure all and those who would claim it has no place,” Obama said. “Because this issue is just too important to allow our progress to languish while we fight the same old battles over and over again.”
Other parts of Obama’s energy plan include stricter regulation on vehicles to limit greenhouse gas emissions – regulations to be announced tomorrow by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation on Thursday – and “greening the federal fleet” with an order of 100 plug-in vehicles. 
In a June 21, 2008 article in the Brandenton Herald newspaper in Florida, an Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan warned that McCain would continue the bad policies of George W. Bush when it came to energy policy.
“(McCain’s) plan to simply drill our way out of our energy crisis is the same misguided approach backed by President Bush that has failed our families for too long and only serves to benefit the big oil companies,” Sevugan said.