Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told CNN that the White House's new plan for some offshore drilling "represents a new direction for us in this administration." (Photo Credit: CNN)
Washington (CNN) – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday that the Obama administration’s new plan for limited offshore drilling is intended to promote American energy independence and national security while protecting critical natural resources.
Watch: Salazar on offshore drilling
“This is a balanced plan,” Salazar said on CNN’s John King, USA. “It represents a new direction for us in this administration based on what had happened in the past. We’re not just going thoughtlessly and rushing to lease [federal lands for drilling] everywhere in America."
President Obama’s new plan would include lifting a 20-year ban on drilling off the Virginia coastline, while clamping down on other sites, including southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay.
In an interview with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, Salazar defended the administration’s move against criticisms from Democrats who are concerned about possible environmental damage and Republicans who feel the plan does not go far enough to open up areas for drilling.
“We’re going to protect the environment,” Salazar said. The interior secretary added that the administration will conduct all the required environmental analyses regarding the areas off the Atlantic coast subject to Obama’s new plan. “But, at the end of the day, this administration stands ready and strong with a foot in conservation, and we’re not going to do anything that’s going to degrade the environment or the coastlines.”
Related: Environmentalists critical of Obama drilling plan
Salazar explained the White House’s decision to place some areas entirely off limits because they’re home to wildlife in need of protection.
“We’re going to protect those environments because they’re very special places,” the interior secretary said of Alaska’s Bristol Bay and areas off the Pacific coast.
And the former senator rejected the notion that Obama’s decision was part of larger political strategy to win support for comprehensive energy legislation that would establish a national so-called “cap-and-trade” system for carbon emissions.
“They are simply wrong,” Salazar told King when asked about suggestions from Republican quarters that Obama is playing politics with energy policy. The Cabinet secretary said the new plan is “based on what is the best science.”
Salazar said that, despite a partisan political environment during a midterm election year, Democrats might be able to get an energy bill through Congress.
“I think it’s possible. It’s not that it’s going to be easy, but then nothing is easy,” he told King. He added that, “My own view is that this is an issue that transcends party lines.” Salazar said that politicians on both sides of the aisle believe developing a comprehensive energy policy will increase the country’s national security and create jobs.
“This is an American issue that ought to unite many people behind this initiative.”
I love it that when the Obama follows Bush exactly it is called "balanced."
Amazing: on drilling, on defense (with the same secretary), on finance (with the same Geitner), Obama just follows Bush as a third term!
What happened to the plans to wean the US off of oil dependency? I guess the oil companies are back to spreading the wealth around Capitol Hill since the insurance companies can keep their bucks now.
Ordinarily it would be wonderful and on the surface it would appear that Obozo is actually taking heed of the majoirty of the publics wishes. However, it is another political dodge, aimed at passing the cap and tax bill that that weird looking Waxman and corrupt out of her mind Boxer have cooked up. It doesn't go fare enough to develop our resources. Another corrupt, slimy move from the natural slimeball.
Finally, Obama is realizing that Palin was much smarter than him when campaigning for producing more American oil and not relying on foreign oil from countries who don't like us. She also proved her intellectual economic mind over Obama's failure to understand the simple economics of his failed 850 billion dollar jobs stimulus that was pushed through. Obama, quote, "this stimulus will create 3 million jobs, in the first year, of which 95% will be in the private sector." Palin, quote, "this bill will not create any significent amount of jobs in the private sector." Who was right libs?
A balanced plan ? This isn't even a plan, It is a PR stunt. It shuts down approved areas off ALaska and says lets do a survey at some other areas. And even if the Department of the Interior says okay, it does nothing unless Congress gets off their lazy patouts. Ther's nothing but slight of hand here.
This is a huge head fake by the Dems. .This is about politics, not about using our own abundant resources while we find real, sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. I want to see the real details about where and under what circumstances the drilling can be done.
The President will no doubt use this as a tool to to help Dems in red states and a large club against Republicans to claim he is reaching out to the middle ground.
This is about "Cap and Trade" only and the Republicans need to stand against it because the public absolutely will not support it when they learn whats involved.
To the simple minded, this idea almost sounds practical! However, I didn't hear anything about drilling off Queen Nan's state or the Dakotas where oil/natural gas are definitely available. Perhaps this is just a moderate bone to the conservatives before his big push to pass the disgraceful tax that is the Cap&Trade bill?
This is another cover up for Obama. Drilling off our Va. coast is great but why shut down an area that has a lot more oil. I have talked to engineers that have been in the Alaskian oil fields and they say the wildlife increases instead of declining on oil field sites so why shut it down??? Another makes no sense Obama plan.
drill baby drill-the end of foreign bribery.
I thought the President campaigned against drilling. I hope he calls Senator McCain to apologize for carrying out another of his ideas. The first of course was taxing some, not all, but some health plans.
This is a sellout of sound environmental policy for bad ideas that Republicans support (or used to) just to gain bipartisan support, which likely will not happen, for Obama's energy agenda. Nuclear power and oil drilling are bad ideas and bad environmental policy. I'm completely against this and will not support the Democrats if they pursue these two policies (nuclear power and oil drilling).
I trust the President, I don't trust the GOP party of NO.
now John McCain (the relic) and his friends will be crying, "NO drill, baby, no drill."
If salazar would speak against the unnecessary wolf kills out West I might start to listen to anything he says.
I am all for not having to depend on oil from the Arabs, but let's clean up some things at home first that make absolutely no sense.
BTW – where's the cowboy hat?
I really like your new show John.I just started watching it last week.You are really fair and present both sides of the issues without mocking conservatives,like MSNBC does.I am a conservative and do listen to the opinions of those on the left.This is a small but a good first step in energy development.However Palin has some good points on this too.I am encouraged Obama is drifting more towards the center in domestic policy.He is very center on foreign policy allready.I like Obama and he obviously is listening ,by giving us conservatives this carrot on offshore drilling.Of course most of us would of wanted what Palin wants.A drilling rig 50 yards in front of Pelosis Bay Area oceanview window.Oh well I guess that will come when she one day is elected POTUS,or appointed minister of the interior ,by whoever becomes the next GOP POTUS.Keep up the great show John.
You mean voter damage control for Obamacare?
What a silly corrupt joke! Viginia voted for a Republican so Obama decides he might as well open up drilling offshore of that state. What about AK or CA? CA could solve its finanial problems if it would open up its offshore. AK and CA could make a real difference in oil that's over $80 a barrel and headed back to $150 within the year. But of course the left wing Elite crazies would come unglued if Obama opened up AK and CA. VA is enough that Obama can try and make people think he's doing somthing about energy costs without doing anything. Going on 2 years now.....no CA no AK oil, and not a single kilowatt more in clean non-green house gas nuclear power. Obama is a joke!
It is not about BALANCE...it's about our impending BANKRUPTCY! If we are going to save this country from bankruptcy, we need to lower taxes, cut spending, cut entitlement programs. Drilling could improve our trade balance by $100 Billion per year! It could also put downward pressure on oil prices which will help our economic recovery. Drilling will bring new well paying jobs. Finally if we invest and drill now we can see a reduction in our deficit of about $100 billion over the next 10 year....it just makes sense.....we have to do it.
We have a President who listens to his advisers, and more importantly, is a pragmatist whose sole concerns are solutions to improving the economy and creating the climate for more jobs.
President Obama without a doubt is a very busy and smart president who thinks way above the board. America get ready, the best is yet to come, I've said it before and I'll say it again, the best is yet to come.
The fact that oil companies own so many leases already that they are just sitting on needs to be brought out in this discussion. Carefully assessed drilling is fine because the US needs to increase its energy independence.
Obama talked about using all energy avenues from oil to solar to nuclear when the GOP were chanting 'Drill Baby Drill', so he's justified in pursuing this, and to claim it's *just* politics is silly. There is a reasonable element of political calculus of course–he wants his energy plan to be seen as feasible, because the GOP and teabaggers are sure to brand it as 'Socialism', and this is one way to preempt their gratuitous raging and force them to talk more reasonably.
I am very impressed how Pres. Obama approaches difficult problems, like energy indepencence and conservation, with intelligent and balanced solutions. He is a centrist and a pragmatist, not an ideologue.
Like Franklin Roosevelt, Pres. Obama is a "lion and a fox" (the title of a famous book by the historian James McGregor Burns). He is exactly the kind of president I voted for and want in these amazing times.
I'd feel a lot better about this if it was tied to a much broader energy strategy. I get that we need fossil fuels until we have other means. What I haven't seen is the plan that says by we expect to be deriving of America's energy needs via renewable or nuclear energy, so we can stop using fossil fuels. Until we get to that point, however, it is necessary to open up drilling on the East Coast as a stopgap measure to get us from now until .
I believe this is a balance plan. To my friends on the left and right you have to keep everyone's interest in mind when it comes to energy. Somethings are going to have benefits now and down the road. The plan will definitely boost are credit rating world wide and create a product/jobs that's made in America. So, please hold your fire until we get more information. Thanks.
I completely support President Obama's proposals regarding oil drilling and nuclear energy, and I am a Republican.