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The End of the Drilling Permitorium? Guess Again

So how did this one approval slip through the ropes and into the ring? It’s a fairly safe bet that the president is feeling the pressure not only of public opinion and pleas from the energy industry, but from two separate courts effectively holding him in contempt for not obeying an order to get the oil rigs back in business. If they can show that some permits are going out it will probably lend some ammunition to the defense in their efforts to maintain the status quo.

But even issuing one single permit, no matter how many safety precautions have been put in place, won’t be enough to satisfy some of Obama’s hard-core anti-drilling base. Observe the reaction of David Dayen of Firedoglake fame upon learning that the Santiago well was not owned entirely by Noble Energy, but also in large part by -- wait for it -- British Petroleum. The phrase “fit to be tied” leaps to mind.

Putting two and two together, there does seem to be a pattern emerging which could lend itself to theories about how Barack Obama plans to keep his base happy as he faces a decidedly uphill battle for a second term. I’m not generally one given to conspiracy theories, but I may have to take a fresh look at the comments of one of his prospective challengers this week.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a potential presidential contender, accused the Obama administration Wednesday of favoring a run-up in gas prices to prod consumers to buy more fuel-efficient cars.

Barbour cited 2008 comments from Steven Chu, now President Barack Obama's energy secretary, that a gradual increase in gasoline taxes could coax consumers into dumping their gas-guzzlers and finding homes closer to where they work. Chu, then a Nobel Prize-winning professor, argued that higher costs per gallon could force investments in alternative fuels and spur cleaner energy sources.

I’d really prefer not to think along those lines. Maybe my rose colored glasses are welded too firmly to the bridge of my nose, but I would hope that any sitting president would do anything in their power to avoid inflicting more economic pain on a nation already struggling with a fiscal crisis like this one. But then again, I also keep clinging to the idea that Devo will have another top ten hit any day now.