NY Times, Wash. Post reported McCain's plan for offshore drilling in response to gas prices, but not that it would have no impact for years

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH

In articles on Sen. John McCain's reversal on offshore drilling, The New York Times reported that McCain "cast" his position "switch" as a "bold action in response to gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon," while The Washington Post suggested that McCain's position is a response "to ease the crunch for consumers." Neither article pointed out that the Department of Energy has determined that offshore drilling would not impact gas prices for many years.

In a June 23 New York Times article, political writer and CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood wrote that Sen. John McCain "cast" his position "switch" on offshore drilling as a "bold action in response to gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon." Similarly, in a June 23 Washington Post article, staff writer Anne E. Kornblut reported: "As gas prices have shot above $4 per gallon, energy policy has taken center stage in the campaign. Both [Sen. Barack] Obama and the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, have proposed plans to ease the crunch for consumers. McCain last week reversed his opposition to offshore oil drilling." But neither Harwood nor Kornblut noted that the Department of Energy has determined that offshore drilling would not impact gas prices for many years.

In its Annual Energy Outlook for 2007, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) stated: "The projections in the OCS [Outer Continental Shelf] access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017." In assessing the likely impact of drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf area, the EIA further stated that "despite the increase in production from previously restricted areas after 2012, total natural gas production from the lower 48 OCS is projected generally to decline after 2020." The EIA continued: "Although a significant volume of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and natural gas resources is added in the OCS access case, conversion of those resources to production would require both time and money. In addition, the average field size in the Pacific and Atlantic regions tends to be smaller than the average in the Gulf of Mexico, implying that a significant portion of the additional resource would not be economically attractive to develop at the reference case prices."

Additionally, the Post itself had reported on June 22 that McCain's senior policy adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, told reporters that lifting the moratorium on offshore drilling "would not boost oil supplies or bring down gas prices in the immediate future."

From Harwood's June 23 New York Times article:

The summer transition to general election from primary campaign is ripe for shifts of tone and emphasis, if not outright flip-flops. Since using populist rhetoric on trade and taxes to vanquish his Democratic rival, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama has declared himself a free-trader while signaling the possibility of cutting corporate taxes and delaying some tax increases for the wealthy.

And when his fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill essentially abandoned their battle with Mr. Bush on terrorist surveillance, Mr. Obama was freed from one potentially damaging national security debate with his war-hero rival. The common thread, as with Mr. Obama's decision to eschew the spending limits imposed by the public financing system, is the portrayal of Mr. Obama as a pragmatic politician rather than one who is ideologically rigid.

Mr. McCain intended to communicate the same point last week with his decision to abandon support for a federal moratorium on off-shore oil drilling. While Mr. Obama dismissed the switch as "the same Washington politics," Mr. McCain cast it as bold action in response to gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon.

Having already bucked the establishments of their parties, Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain have four more months for repositioning as they woo swing voters. Trying to shed his party's baggage, Mr. McCain may find additional flip-flops harder to resist.

From Kornblut's June 23 Washington Post article:

The three other components of the plan, as described by Obama economic adviser Jason Furman, are to ensure that U.S. energy futures cannot be traded in offshore, unregulated markets; to work toward international regulation of oil futures markets, in cooperation with like-minded countries; and to have both the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department investigate the oil markets.

As gas prices have shot above $4 per gallon, energy policy has taken center stage in the campaign. Both Obama and the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, have proposed plans to ease the crunch for consumers. McCain last week reversed his opposition to offshore oil drilling; he has also supported giving consumers a "holiday" from paying federal taxes on gasoline.

The McCain campaign said yesterday that Obama is mimicking McCain on the gas loophole.

"The truth is Barack Obama is following John McCain's lead to close a Wall Street loophole that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton," McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement. "John McCain has supported bipartisan efforts to close this loophole and will work to address abuses in oil speculation."

Posted In
Environment & Science, Drilling
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post, The New York Times
Person
Anne Kornblut, John Harwood
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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