Mistakes Were Made

Politics Affected Oil Drilling Policy

Citing confidence in the safety of deepwater drilling, President Obama announced a push to increase deepwater exploration as part of an energy independence plan just before the BP oil spill in the gulf; months after the disaster hit, Obama reversed course, saying the all the facts weren’t yet in. What happened? Not just bad timing, The Washington Post reports. The White House had uncritically accepted the conventional wisdom on drilling’s safety record. Politics factored heavily into department head Ken Salazar’s 14-month report on possibly increasing drilling. In fact, whether drilling would be expanded wasn’t much of a question. Obama had campaigned on the issue as part of his energy policy. The president wanted to pass a climate change bill—and a “grand bargain” with Republicans on drilling seemed the only way to do it.