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Is Obama Really Anti-Drilling?

The Interior Department’s announcement on Thursday that it’s safe to do underwater seismic testing to look for oil and gas off the Atlantic coast is rekindling the fight over offshore oil drilling on the Eastern seaboard. This pretty much puts us back to where we were in March 2010, when President Obama decided to open up vast tracts of the Atlantic Ocean to oil drilling. Three weeks later, BP’s Deep Horizon oil rig exploded, effectively quashing the debate for the next few years.

Not surprisingly, the oil lobby thinks seismic testing is a great idea. The Atlantic is a “potential gold mine” of oil and gas reserves, according to a report issued in December by the American Petroleum Institute. Maybe. We have almost no idea what’s down there. The most recent estimates are more than 30 years old. What data there is suggests the Atlantic seabed stretching from Delaware to Cape Canaveral may hold only about 3.3 billion barrels of oil. That’s about as much crude as the U.S. consumes in six months.