Oil industry: drilling plan good 'first step'

Barry Russell, the president and CEO of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, had similar things to say.

“The announcement today from the president is a welcomed first step to addressing the nation’s future energy needs,” Russell said. “For decades, Washington has failed to make the tough decisions necessary to develop a responsible, 21st century American offshore oil and gas program.”

And this from the Business Roundtable, a group of the CEOs of the largest companies in the United States: “This decision is an important first step towards greater energy security for our nation.”

Joshua Freed, who directs clean energy programs at The Third Way, a Democratic think tank, said the drilling decision was “smart public politics.”

In the end, though, the move may not carry over to the debate on climate legislation, the passage of which remains a priority for the administration.

“It’s good optics to get ahead of the coming high summer gas prices, but it’s going to be tough to get skeptical senators on board K-G-L,” Freed said, referring to Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), the climate trio trying to write compromise legislation.