It was just a few weeks ago that President Obama was on the debate stage telling that nation that Mitt Romney had unfairly tarred his administration as anti-energy development:
We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years … Now, I want to build on that. And that means, yes, we still continue to open up new areas for drilling.
As I noted at the time, Obama’s defense of his record was essentially dishonest. Increased oil production was due almost entirely to a combination of private-sector development and federal efforts initiated by the Bush Administration. As for his pledge to open up new drilling sites? Well, judge for yourself. From The Hill:
The Interior Department on Friday issued a final plan to close 1.6 million acres of federal land in the West originally slated for oil shale development.
The proposed plan would fence off a majority of the initial blueprint laid out in the final days of the George W. Bush administration. It faces a 30-day protest period and a 60-day process to ensure it is consistent with local and state policies. After that, the department would render a decision for implementation.
Interior’s Bureau of Land Management cited environmental concerns for the proposed changes. Among other things, it excised lands with “wilderness characteristics” and areas that conflicted with sage grouse habitats.
The sage grouse, it should be noted, is not endangered, though it is on the waiting list to earn that classification. In 2010, the Fish and Wildlife Service described the bird’s status as, “numerous relatively small populations existing in a patchy mosaic of increasingly fragmented habitat.” Count me skeptical that a population in such shape requires 1.6 million acres (2,500 square miles) to survive.