ABC News’ Yunji de Nies Reports:
Yunji de Nies: I'm curious, what changed? I mean, the president again and again on the campaign trail said that this was — this would be insignificant, that expanding these kind of leases would not do much in terms of consumer relief, short-term or long-term. So what's different?
MR. BILL BURTON: Well, what the president said was that there's no silver bullet when it comes to decreasing our dependence on foreign oil and having a comprehensive view on energy. If you remember the conversation that was being had, a lot of people treated offshore drilling as a panacea to solve all of our problems as they related to energy. But what the president thought was that it just had to be one part of a comprehensive strategy to dealing with that.
That's why over the course of the presidency — and you've heard him at the State of the Union talk about this, and in other venues talk about it. He's talked about increasing production of domestic oil. He's talked about finding ways to get nuclear energy moving in this country, clean coal moving in this country, and all those different things. But along with the increased production, he's talked about ways to make vehicles more efficient. There's new fuel-efficiency standards, which is something that was very hard to get an
agreement on, but bringing all of the relevant parties to the table, he was able to.
He's done things to make the federal fleet more fuel-efficient – more fuel-efficient, using hybrid vehicles, buying plug-in cars, to make sure that we're doing everything we can, from the federal government's standpoint, in order to decrease our dependence on foreign oil.
So nothing has changed. What you see here today is a fulfillment of what the president said he was going to do.
de Nies: But the president said that this was insignificant. If it's insignificant, then — and you have the kind of political fallout that Jennifer [Loven – Associated Press] is talking about potentially happening, then what makes this worth it?
MR. BURTON: What the president said was that this, in and of itself, would not be enough to get us on a path to energy independence. And so as one part of his strategy, finding places where you can reasonably and safely drill offshore to increase production, is a key part to that. So — but it's just one part of that. And that's what he said in the campaign, and that's what he's following through on today.