Month 12, Day 2: Get Me Two Packs of Marlboros. With Cheese.

Looks like we’re not going to keep drilling, baby, drilling after all, as the Times reports.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it had rescinded its decision to expand offshore oil exploration into the eastern Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast because of weaknesses in federal regulation revealed by the BP oil spill.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that a moratorium on drilling would be in force in those areas for at least seven years, until stronger safety and environmental standards were in place. The move puts off limits millions of acres of the Outer Continental Shelf that hold potentially billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.

Well, that’s excellent, and worthy of praise. But I’m just a grouch, I guess.

While it’s certainly good news that the Obama administration has abandoned its plans for further exploratory oil drilling on the East coast of the U.S., it is also a demonstration of just how far we have to go in our long national struggle for an energy economy free from the environmental and fiscal impacts of fossil fuels. Like those of Big Tobacco, the extractive industries’ P.R. aims to persuade us that fossil fuels are clean, safe, cheap and desirable — and all the past century’s collapsed mines, moonscaped mountaintops, sunken drilling platforms, ruptured pipelines, exploded refineries and drunken tanker captains have failed to change our minds. In the light of American intransigence regarding any possibility of a meaningful greenhouse emissions agreement at the Cancun Conference, Secretary Salazar’s announcement reminds one of a morbidly obese person topping off a Supersized order of junk food — with a diet soft drink.

Warren Senders

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