Jeremy Alford

Melancon not sweating Obama's anti-drilling assault

by Jeremy Alford

There are 68 days left until President George Bush has to vacate the Oval Office to make room for President-elect Barack Obama. And the new guy has promised quick change – a lot of it – so those 68 days promise to be loaded with one surprise after another. Already, the Democratic crown-holder says he plans to make an immediate impact by killing a few of the executive orders issued by the GOP administration of Mr. W.

Obama told reporters over the weekend that he is reviewing possibly lifting a ban on stem cell research and closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, where suspected and convicted terrorists are held. But Obama, who didn’t exactly have the most pro-oil record going into the race for the White House, is also considering halting the Bureau of Land Management from opening about 360,000 acres for domestic drilling.

Make no bones about it: Louisiana is an oil and gas state. Money generated from drilling and processing funds coastal restoration projects, road overhauls and other vital public needs. But Congressman Charlie Melancon, a Democrat who represents portions of Acadiana and endorsed Obama earlier this year, says there is nothing to worry about – yet.

For starters, the executive order Obama is reviewing involves environmentally-sensitive areas of Utah. It has nothing to do with Louisiana. Additionally, Melancon says Obama could prove to be more moderate on drilling and exploration once he takes office. You just never know. “You can always come up with some speculation, but my feeling is, my hope is, he won’t move to curtail action in the Gulf of Mexico or the Outer Continental Shelf,” Melancon says. “And this decision regarding Utah could be good for us because it’ll put more demand on Louisiana to produce.”

Obama's chosen chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, has also taken an early stance on the ailing automobile industry and is already lobbying the federal government to provide some sort of aid. General Motors, the largest automaker in the United States, is reportedly losing more than $2 billion a month from its cash cushion and could soon face bankruptcy.