Offshore Drilling: Obama’s Black Whale

Editor’s note: Normally we don’t stray into the political implications of public policy, but after Patrick wrote this  response to President Obama’s new drilling policy we felt it was too interesting to keep to ourselves. So here’s a try at something new: Commentary and Opinion from Patrick Reck.

Wednesday’s announcement by President Obama to expand offshore oil drilling and gas exploration is devastating, especially for a Yankee like myself. I grew up cherishing my yearly family vacations to Ocean City, Maryland and Virginia Beach. Pristine memories of balcony breakfasts at sunrise, pirate mini-golf, and running with kites flying so high that you wonder if the sky is as endless as the sea.

Now, I get waves of nausea thinking that in 10 or 15 years, children will walk down those same beaches and gaze out, not at the brilliance of the colors in the sky and the mystery of where the horizon meets the sun, but at a row of tiny metal cranes, stooping down low to suck black blood out of the Atlantic.

Hopefully the ocean will still evoke profound wonder in developing minds, but will it be the fascination of Copernicus or the madness of Ahab?

“The white whale tasks me; he heaps me. Yet he is but a mask. ‘Tis the thing behind the mask I chiefly hate; the malignant thing that has plagued mankind since time began; the thing that maws and mutilates our race, not killing us outright but letting us live on, with half a heart and half a lung.”

Who is Obama? Copernicus? A man of science “guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence“?  A principled president navigating the ship of state in the stormy winds of corrupt politics in order to secure affordable energy for citizens?

Is he Ahab? Some mad man hell-bent on conquering nature for the greedy prosperity of the U.S. no matter the costs?

Or is he just another politician, maneuvering and manipulating public opinion for reelection in 2012?

If that’s the case, he’s got a problem. Nobody likes this. Neo-conservatives don’t think it goes far enough. Progressives deprecate the environmental impact of oil drilling.

It seems that he’s more akin to Christopher Columbus–an ambitious bootlick in the employ of fossil fuel tyrants.

He wants to find a new way to energy security. He’s been lost at sea for a very long time. His crew is mutinous. And when he finally spots land, he throws down a flag in celebration, only to discover that this isn’t India and those aren’t spices. The path to energy security is the same old politically unpopular route to renewables he left behind.

His funders won’t be happy with the news, so, instead, he kidnaps some naive natives and calls them slaves! Whoopy! Obama saves the day.

In as much seriousness as is permissible on April Fool’s, offshore oil drilling is a terrible idea. Our D.C. office put out a fantastic press release condemning the move. And Public Citizen’s Tyson Slocum wrote a fantastic blog entitled Obama’s Drill to Nowhere.

Its very sad to think that Obama, an intelligent, articulate, and inspirational President, continues to buy into the corporate manufactured myths of oil and all fossil fuels. You know better. I know better. Yet he keeps parading around, stumping for the 2012 election, making himself look like Ahab and Chris Columbus all rolled into one, on a fool’s mission, discovering fool’s gold, and earning the title of the man who discovered that the world is round.

Offshore oil drilling is a long-term project and a high-end investment with minimal prospects for securing our energy future. Why, oh why, must we chase after this black whale?


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.