President Obama’s recent announcement of his administration’s intention  to broaden offshore drilling to  waters in the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the North coast of Alaska may have been more eloquent than the Republican’s favored sentiment, “Drill, baby, drill”, but the core message seemed to be eerily similar.

President Obama also preemptively addressed his critics in his speech, stating, “There will be those who strongly disagree with this decision, including those who say we should not open any new areas to drilling. But what I want to emphasize is that this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy.

Obama say what?

He further attempted to cushion the blow of this polarizing announcement by reminding the public of the positive things he and his administration have done for the environment and intend to do in the future, noting, Already, we’ve made the largest investment in clean energy in our nation’s history.

The President’s justifications have not been met with the understanding that he may have been hoping for, in fact, it seems as though his tooting of his own horn and his “the end justifies the means” defense is falling on a sea of deaf ears.

Critics have also been quick to identify this as a calculated move on his behalf in order to earn favor with Republicans. Ben Feller of the Huffington Post explains, “Inside politically conscious Washington, Obama’s announcement was viewed, too, as a play to win Republican support for a comprehensive climate change bill.”  While the intent of the President’s decision remains to be seen, it seems to be another rationalization for the expansion offshore drilling- if appeasing Republicans by giving them the offshore drilling that they love to enthusiastically chant for means that a bill that will be a positive step for the environment gets passed as a result, then is it really so bad?

Intentions aside, environmentalists are taking this surprise move by the President as a slap in the face. Among the offended, The Executive Director of Greenpeace, Phil Radford, offers “Expanding offshore drilling in areas that have been protected for decades threatens our oceans and the coastal communities that depend on them with devastating oil spills, more pollution and climate change.

Regardless of the reason or reasons President Obama made this decision, the reality is that offshore drilling comes with huge risks to the environment and to our nation‘s reputation worldwide. This decision gives the appearance that the President giving a huge thumbs up to the indulgent, gas guzzling habits prevalent in the United States today. Does President Obama really believe that offshore drilling is the methadone this junkie nation needs to finally kick the oil habit?

Supporting  the development and the implementation of cleaner energies would be a more proactive, long-term way to achieve energy independence. Compromises that include risky endeavors of seeking out more oil seem  not only senseless, but downright dangerous. Offshore drilling- no matter how much you dress it up or how many pretty bows you stick on it -comes with huge risks to the environment. Oil spills are dire events that have long-lasting negative repercussions for all types of life.

If you disagree with the President’s intention to extend offshore drilling, please, we urge you, to let your opinion be heard. Contact the President or sign this petition on Moveon.org. Also, remember to do your part and consume less energy.

Together, with a little effort and innovation-and perhaps a twelve step program-we can evolve into a nation that is free at last of our nasty oil habit.

-Meghan Hurley