Obama Plans to Undo Bush Rules on Oil Drilling on Public Lands, Among Others

  • Published on November 10th, 2008

He’ll reverse the Bush executive orders that opened public lands to oil drilling, the co-chair of his transition team said Sunday.

barack obama

[social_buttons]John Podesta, co-chair of Barack Obama’s transition team, indicated on Sunday that the president-elect would quickly use executive powers to reverse several Bush-era administrative rules, a few of which would have an immediate impact on U.S. environmental policy. Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Podesta, the Former chief of staff to Bill Clinton said, “There’s a lot the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we’ll see the president do that.”

Podesta pointed to attempts by the Bush administration in its dying days to expose tracts of public land in the west to oil and gas drilling. The federal Bureau of Land Management is opening about 360,000 acres of public land in Utah to oil and gas drilling. “They want to have oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive, fragile lands in Utah. I think that’s a mistake,” Podesta said.

A team of about 50 Obama advisers have already been working for months identifying some 200 Bush policies as possible targets for reversal.

Obama has also indicated he intends to quickly reverse the Bush administration’s decision last December to deny California the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles. A decision that seems to be in direct opposition to the Supreme Court ruling that CO2 should be regulated as a pollutant.

Of the major policy areas the Obama administration seeks to reform, changes in energy and the environmental policy may be the easiest to affect with executive power. In a recent interview with New York Magazine, Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel pointed out that of the four areas an Obama administration would seek to reform — financial regulation, tax, health care and energy — energy was one where “you can do some things immediately.”

The list of executive orders targeted by Obama’s team could grow in the coming days, as Bush’s appointees are fast-tracking a number of last-minute policies in an effort to extend his legacy. Other areas of action may include rule changes on stem cell research, reproductive rights, food and drug regulation and immigration enforcement.

Image: Library of Congress

About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.


  • Omaba ahould be makeing all theres changes all at one time.. hes moving to fast with the tax on gas and bullets. so much for change hes makeing my life worse.. and i cant imagin how many other hunters or people hes screwing over…

  • The price of gas will be soon to go up to $4.00 per gallon again. If Obama stop drilling from the Federal Land, be sure we have enough alternative energy available without the people getting hurt from the price of gas just like last summer.

  • I dont think that Obama should start trying to change the US drilling practices. There are thousands and even hundred of thousands maybe even millions of jobs at stake. If he were to discontinue the drilling in the US what is he prepared to do for those who loose good paying jobs that support many families and pay taxes on. Is he going to produce another job for those who loose it due to his mistake by cutting out the drilling in the US. I know fr a fact that he cannot and will not do this so therefore he isnt helping one person except himself look better in the enviormentalist eyes. If he knew one thing about drilling he would know everything used in the process come from the earth in the begining. He really needs to put mor infaces on drilling in the US and not support the other person unles he is ready to support those that will be mostly affected the US drilling program remember that is millions. He will need to have more that 700 billion bailout if he discontinue the drilling in the US. I have worked all my lif to get where I am and I sure dont want to set back and let Obama knock me down just because he wants to look good. Go figure that someone like that wanting to look good especially when he wasnt even born in the US.

  • Jacinda-

    Unless the area around you is entirely made-up of the roadless areas which Bush opened for oil and gas exploration, your boyfriend and everyone you know is in no danger of losing their jobs working in the oil field.

  • I can not believe what stupid people are running our country. Where I live and the area round me, there is nothing but oil drilling. My boyfriend has done oil for years! So now everybody I know will be pretty much screwed!! We need oil drilling, taking it away will be a huge mistake. How can we trust other people to do everything for us. We have to depend on ourselves for some things!! Oil needs to remain the way it is.

  • Justme wrote;

    "Doesn’t anyone remember the pics of the birds lying dead, covered with oil from the oil spills on our coasts?"

    Yeah I remember….that was what more then thirty years ago? The last major oil spill was in 1991 done deliberately by Saddam.

    We have new technology now…oil spills are rare and small.

    China and Cuba are planing on drilling just 60 miles off our shore…..do you trust them more or our oil companies?

    Like the poster above said it will take all energy sources to make us independent. the ultimate goal would be only clean renewable energy…but to think that will happen over night is a fairy tell. We need oil and gas as part of the bridge to that future that is likely a couple of decades away.

  • We need a National Energy Policy that supports current energy exploration and provides for the development of new or retooled sources of energy. This should include oil, natural gas, wind and solar power. We need leadership that will have a positive impact on the development of natural gas as a transportation fuel source. Natural gas cost less per equivalent unit, has a much smaller carbon foot print, and generates brake hourse power values that can in fact power transportation. Walk up and smell the coffee people we need it all. Anything that our do nothing congress along with our president elect will do to slow or stop current exsisting energy development can only make things worse. How about $600 a BBL for oil? Quit pointing fingers and make a positive impact. Give us a workable plan for energy independence!!!!!!!!!!now!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I would assume that they are taking a close look at each executive order, reversing those that were intended to skirt the law and bypass legislative or environment processes. This was a hallmark of the Bush administration, to rule the country as though Congress and the courts didn't exist. But it would be foolish to reverse course on any order that makes sense and is within the bounds of honest government.

  • Here we go!! You can't change your votes now, and you're going to make us all get what we knew he wouldn't deliver. Higher oil prices, more union BS, no transparency to the $700 Billion handout that was told time and again, "I want more transparency in Washington!" Thanks, democRATS! You wanted him, now we all have BO!!

  • Doesn't anyone remember the pics of the birds lying dead, covered with oil from the oil spills on our coasts?

    The government spoke of fuel efficient autos when I was in school 45 years ago. Auto industries have completely failed to improve efficiency standards. I wonder if profits are the reason….

  • This is good but there needs to be more emphasis on alternative fuel sources. We can kill two evil birds with one stone. Eliminate needless destruction of the environment AND cut our dependency on foreign oil.

  • This wouldn't be a ban of all onshore drilling on public lands by any means. This would reverse a bush executive order that bypassed previous designations of lands that could/couldn't be drilled on.

  • Obama needs to think long and hard about not drilling in the US. The Middle East can turn our faucet off at any given moment if they want to. What is he going to do then. Can you see our freeways being used by horse and buggy? We need to have our own resources for oil and gas and quit depending so darn much on the overseas market. That is another issue this country's politicians have; they depend too much on goods from overseas and half of it that comes from over there is just pure JUNK and not worth the material it is made from. If the politicians and the President is really worried about the economy and jobs then they need to allow factories to open up and be allowed to make our own goods. That will give our people jobs, too. I disagree with depending so much on the overseas market when we have our own capabilities right here in the United States.

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