Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Friday he would be willing to support limited additional offshore oil drilling if that's what it takes to enact a comprehensive policy to foster fuel-efficient autos and develop alternate energy sources.
Shifting from his previous opposition to expanded offshore drilling, the Illinois senator told a Florida newspaper he could get behind a compromise with Republicans and oil companies to prevent gridlock over energy.
Republican rival John McCain, who earlier dropped his opposition to offshore drilling, has been criticizing Obama on the stump and in broadcast ads for clinging to his opposition as gasoline prices topped $4 a gallon. Polls indicate these attacks have helped McCain gain ground on Obama.
"My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices," Obama said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post.
"If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done."
Obviously, obama changed his position because of public opposition to the ban and because he thinks he could use it get Republicans to sign on to other legislation as he says. It's an election year. But I would suspect they will extract another 100 pounds of environmental flesh before they do. That's how they operate. Maybe we could agree to store nuclear waste at Fisherman's Wharf in exchange for some investment in wind power. Or perhaps we could agree to drill in Yellowstone in exchange for subsidies to the automakers to put solar panels on their office buildings. If there's one thing you can count on it's that Republicans negotiate in good faith.
I would imagine the House Dems faces are a little bit red now that they didn't just give the Republicans what they wanted so they could go home and reap the votes of all those people who demand offshore drilling immediately so we can get our gas prices down before their vacations start. What a missed opportunity.