April 1st, 2010
08:35 AM ET

Dear President Obama #437: Drill, baby, drill

Reporter's Note: The president has unveiled plans to permit much expanded oil exploration off the east coast, the south, and in the far north. So I have unveiled my latest letter to the White House.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I had the strangest experienced on the elevator today. This really, really short woman wearing a skirt stepped and proceeded to lift one leg and use it to scratch the other as we rode. Sort of like a cricket without the noise. Nothing more came of it, and she seemed otherwise perfectly normal, but I don’t know…just seemed a shade odd.

But heck, who am I to complain about peculiar? You’ve got David Axelrod working with you! Ha!

So I watched your big oil drilling announcement, and I was surprised. I knew that you were going to roll out something on that front, but I certainly didn’t expect it to be as far-reaching as it was, and I can guarantee you the environmental crowd didn’t expect it. Seriously, it must have galled them when McCain tweeted that “Drill, baby, drill!”

Interesting message you have: We have to expand drilling to stabilize our economy, bring more Republicans on board for a broader green energy policy, and keep things moving as we make the shift. Pretty crafty, I must say. At the same time, I can understand how it…well, I suppose the word is “disquiets,” some of your fans, because you clearly treated drilling like a dirty word in most of your campaign.

To be fair: You did mention that more domestic production might be needed and expanded drilling might be a component. But you should be fair too: You pretty much buried that in the fine print of your speeches after you’d already shouted out the headlines that your Republican opponents were wrong to focus so much on drilling as a solution to our energy woes.

But that’s oil in the driveway as I’ve always said. So here is a new caution. You need to make it very, very clear how terribly long the road is to this green energy Nirvana you are building. I spent part of the afternoon looking at a chart from Lawrence Livermore National Labs showing how much energy we use and where it comes from. Oil, natural gas, and coal are so overwhelmingly, massively, unimaginably dominant, they make all of your renewable energy sources look like barnacles on a blue whale. Wind power? Statistically, it’s like it doesn’t exist. On the chart it looks like you could increase the nation’s wind farms twenty-fold and it would still be barely a blip. Solar too.

Becoming a green energy leader among nations is an admirable goal, and given time I suspect we can get there. But the climb, I think, is much steeper and farther than many Americans know…and if you don’t make that explicit even as you try to ease us up the mountain, you could set up tremendous disappointment, disillusionment and even abandonment of the cause as we drill down through the years.

Enough said. I still wish you well with it all, and if you feel like calling to talk it over, feel free…but not too late ok? I have to get up oily. Ha!



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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