The President announced a new drilling policy today that revises the nation’s existing energy policy by expanding the areas that are open to offshore drilling. Framing the move as a pragmatic move to transition the nation from traditional sources today to a future of clean sources, the announcement nonetheless drew immediate fire from environmentalists and politicians.

Despite the initial fallout, this is a step in the right direction. While the nation may fantasize about alternative energy, we are very far from achieving this goal, and many clean energy programs are still quite far from being financially viable without significant federal subsidies. Until the time that such technology becomes more efficient and widespread, utilizing existing domestic resources of all stripes – oil, natural gas, coal, oil sands, shale, etc – is the best option that our nation has to keep prices low at a time when families are still struggling.

To be sure, the President’s announcement is no major victory for American consumers. As our friends at American Solutions have pointed out, “the plan is defined more by what it restricts than what it opens up. The Obama administration chose to take off the table large portions of the OCS in an announcement that was supposed to be about expanding American energy.” I don’t think the President’s plan goes far enough, but it is certainly an acceptable opening salvo. After all, he can always make more reserves available, right? 

It should be remembered, however, the danger that expanded drilling has been offered as a “concession” for a more comprehensive cap-and-trade type policy down the road is very real, and something that policy watchers should keep an eye out for. In the meantime, though, let’s cut the President some slack and acknowledge that this is better than things have been for a while.