Obama unveils oil-hunt plan
Green lobbyists lash out as US president approves 'drill, baby, drill' policy
President Barack Obama faced a backlash from angry environmentalists yesterday after announcing he was opening up huge areas of American waters to oil and gas drilling.
Mr Obama unveiled a policy that could put new platforms along the Atlantic coastline, the Gulf of Mexico and off parts of Alaska.
It was welcomed by cries of "drill, baby, drill" from Republicans repeating a slogan from their 2008 election campaign. Their leaders on Capitol Hill claimed credit for encouraging the move and said they were ready to work with Mr Obama.
The decision is expected to help the president secure opposition support for a climate change bill.
"This is not a decision that I've made lightly," Mr Obama said, stressing it would be done "in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and to protect America's natural resources".
He said he had studied the issue for more than a year and concluded that it was the right decision given the nation's thirst for energy and the need to produce jobs and keep American businesses competitive.
Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Centre for Biological Diversity, said the announcement was "all too typical of what we have seen so far from President Obama -- promises of change, a year of 'deliberation', and ultimately, adoption of flawed and outdated Bush policies as his own".
He added: "Rather than bring about the change we need, this plan will further our national addiction to oil and contribute to global warming, while at the same time directly despoiling the habitat of polar bears, endangered whales, and other imperilled wildlife."
Phil Radford, Greenpeace executive director, said: "Is this President Obama's clean energy plan or Palin's 'drill, baby, drill' campaign?
"Expanding offshore drilling in areas that have been protected for decades threatens our oceans and the coastal communities that depend on them with devastating oil spills, more pollution and climate change."
Mr Obama was capitalising on the upturn in his political fortunes after the passage of the Democratic healthcare bill to do something the White House knows will be unpopular with its liberal supporters.
The decision was part of a broader strategy, Mr Obama said, that included expanding the production of nuclear power to "move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on home-grown fuels" and clean energy.
"Around the world, countries are seeking an edge in the global marketplace by investing in new ways of producing and saving energy," he said. (©Daily Telegraph, London)