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Obama Touts Fossil Fuel Extraction Record During Historic Heat Wave

March US heatwave

In quite a fitting turn of events, while a historic March heat wave continued to engulf the Midwest United States for a tenth consecutive day, President Obama made a campaign stop in the oil town of Cushing, Oklahoma. He stopped by to tout his administration’s record on fossil fuel extraction.

In his speech in Cushing, Obama stated, “ Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some. So we are drilling all over the place.”

Cushing will be at the northern end of a section of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline which is slated to be constructed in the South of the United States. Obama is now saying the pipeline is “a priority” for his administration in the face of Republican criticism he’s not doing enough to try and reign in high gasoline prices.

Oh how an election campaign can make a politician change his tune. Back in January Obama denied the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, citing there needed to be a more thorough environmental analysis. Opponents of the pipeline largely thought the battle was won, for the time being – after considerable efforts to stop the pipeline from going ahead, including many arrests. However, Obama has also stated, “Producing more oil and gas here at home has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of our all-of-the-above strategy.”

So, what the U.S. has is a president who’s proud to be extracting fossil fuels “all over the place” while, as Dr Jeff Masters from Weather Underground puts it, the U.S. is going through “A spring heat wave like no other in U.S. and Canadian history”, since records began in the late 1800s. In addition, Masters stated “It is highly unlikely the warmth of the current ‘Summer in March’ heat wave could have occurred unless the climate was warming.”

As I’ve said in a previous post about the current U.S. heat wave (see March Heat Wave Is One Of The Most Extreme Heat Events In US History), eminent climate scientists such as Dr. James Hansen have pointed to recent occurrences of heat waves being more intense because of global warming.

Now, considering climate scientists are telling us extracting and burning fossil fuels at the rate we are is causing global warming, including more intense heat waves, please, someone tell me why the president of one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitting countries is wanting to drill from more fossil fuels “all over the place”? And what’s more, he’s supposed to be a “progressive” president. It seems like utter madness to me.

Image courtesy of NASA: Temperature map of  of the US, 15 March, 2012. Mid-summer in March.

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