The Sierra Club is condemning President Obamaâ€™s plan to open up new areas to offshore oil drilling. â€œDrilling our coasts will do nothing to lower gas prices or create energy independence,â€ Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said today. â€œIt will only jeopardize beaches, marine life, and coastal tourist economic, all so the oil industry can make a short term profit.â€
Obama announced the decision today during a speech on energy security at Andrews Air Force Base. The President went on to stress that environmental protection would be a top priority in opening up new areas to drilling.
â€œWeâ€™ll protect areas that are vital to tourism, the environment, and our national security,â€ he said.Â â€œAnd weâ€™ll be guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence.â€
This is not the first time Obama has drawn the ire of the nationâ€™s oldest and largest grassroots environmental group. Last month, the Sierra Club expressed similar disappointment when it learned that Obama wanted to provide loan guarantees to help build the nationâ€™s first new nuclear power plant in three decades. It also took issue with the Presidentâ€™s support for clean coal technology.
â€œWe believe there is no such thing as clean coal,â€ Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope said at the time.
At the same time, the Sierra Club has been a strong supporter of the majority of President Obamaâ€™s environmental and clean energy policies. The group endorsed Obama in his bid for the presidency candidate in 2008 and funneled thousands of volunteers into his campaign, according to the Sierra Club website.
â€œWhile we stand wholeheartedly behind President Obama's overall vision, there are some areas of disagreement,â€ Pope said last month.
According to Obama, his plans to open up protected coastal areas to offshore oil drilling has nothing to do with politics. Still, the move can certainly be construed as little more than a fine piece of political deal cutting aimed at increasing bipartisan support for comprehensive climate legislation in the U.S. Senate. Precisely the type of political maneuvering that has been driving many environmentalists who support Obama crazy in recent months. Certainly doesn't do much to inspire much confidence in the idea that the President is serious about ending our dependence on fossil fuels.
â€œâ€¦while nuclear power and offshore drilling may be necessary to win a few votes in the Senate, they don't do anything to help us transition to the clean energy future,â€ as Carl Pope put it recently.