So here we have it, President Obama’s first move on energy policy is to open new areas to offshore drilling for petroleum. I fully back his move since we need to explore all possible energy sources, especially those that offer real new supplies, not speculative ventures.

But is this what the President’s supporters expected? Opening new offshore drilling sites is one of the most heated political issues in Florida. The debate here is between those who see important sources of new revenue for the state and those who worry that offshore drilling will hurt the state’s current main source of income, tourism. As for worrying about offshore drilling affecting tourism, I suggest one take a look at offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico near Texas’ main beach facilities or gaze at the oil rigs one can see from Long Beach, California.

Another major concern is what new offshore drilling could do to the fragile environment of Alaska. Given the enormous size of Alaska I frankly find worrying about the impact of relativly small areas on the overall state to lack perspective.

I guess this is a clear case of “energy independence” trumping “environmental concerns.” I find both concerns to be overblown so am indifferent to which one “wins” these battles.

Far more interesting here is the political motives that drive there decisions. Obama was a stout defender of the environment during the elections and dismissed new offshore drilling for petroleum as providing insufficient new oil to sacrifice our environment. So why change position now? Could it be the polls showing major gains for the Republicans in this year’s elections?