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This is great news.  Yesterday the Obama administration took another step in helping us break the shackles of foreign oil by offering up more areas for oil and gas drilling, including in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Alaska coast .

The only bad part about it is that the sale of the 15 leases will be stretched out over 5 years from 2012-2017 with the Alaskan leases coming up towards the end to make time for scientific evaluations.  Hell, we need those fossil fuels NOW.  Why wait when the foreign oil producers are threatening our national security by hold us hostage to their oil.  I'm not critical of our President, but this is a big mistaken unless he has something up his sleeve as usual.

But those scientific evaluations are probably important.  After all you might run into to some nasty surprises up there like ...

The announcement came on a day when a near-record storm was expected to pound the western Alaska coast. The focus was in the Bering Sea, but the National Weather Service said winds of 65 to 70 mph with gusts to 90 mph also were expected along the Chukchi Sea coast.

"How do you drill a relief well? How do you put a containment system in place in those conditions? It is a very challenging situation up there to say the least," said Marilyn Heiman, the Arctic Program Director for the Pew Environment Group.

Of course, some take issue with the plan:

William H. Meadow, the president of The Wilderness Society, said in a statement the lease sale plan "continues to take America down the road of putting big oil first, threatening our few remaining pristine areas with drilling and spilling."

"It is too soon for the administration to say that they will have the necessary science, the proven spill-response techniques, and the needed response capacity and onshore infrastructure by the time of their proposed Arctic Ocean lease sales," he said.

But environmental groups aren't the only ones criticizing the plan.  The oil and gas industry also fails to recognize this important step toward energy freedom:

The American Petroleum Institute, an oil industry trade group, was also not pleased. Erik Milito, head of the group's production section, called it "a missed opportunity" to address rising energy demand, jobs and the deficit. Royalties from energy production on public lands are one of the largest sources of income to the federal government.

The plan falls well short of proposals passed in the House and touted by Republicans running for president, who want to vastly expand drilling. They have accused the president of stifling American energy.

Like they say, if nobody likes it, it must be a good policy.  And if it's President Obama's policy, you know it's gotta be good.  We're always safe in the hands of the Democrats.

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