Obama's Nod to Offshore Drilling Alarms Environmental Groups

President Obama's embrace of traditional energy sources while developing new ones is alarming environmental groups, who fear it could result in a boost in offshore drilling.

"We have grave concerns about additional offshore drilling," said Bob Deans of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The president talks about raising loan guarantees substantially for the nuclear power industry. We think that would be a mistake."

In his budget, Obama calls for $18 billion more in loan guarantees for nuclear power plant construction.

The use of traditional energy sources while developing new ones means more nuclear power, which accounts for 20 percent of America's electricity; more coal-fired power plants, which now provide 50 percent of the nation's electricity; and more offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.

Offshore rigs produces 25 percent of all domestic oil production and 13 percent of America's natural gas supplies.

America needs more of it because alternative energy supplies aren't ready now and won't be for years.

"We can't overnight convert to an all-solar or an all-wind economy," Obama has said. "That just can't happen."

But Obama also wants to eliminate more than $36 billion in federal subsidies for the oil and natural gas industry in his budget, and seeks to kill $2.3 billion in coal tax breaks, raising the ire of coal-state Democrats.

"He says 'I'm for clean coal,' and then he says it in his speeches, but he doesn't say it in here," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. "And he doesn't say it in the minds of my own people. And he's beginning to not be believable to me."

Believable or not, the president admits his oil-and-gas, nuclear and coal talk is a way to win over Senate Republicans as he tries to salvage his foundering energy legislation.

"There should be a bipartisan agreement that we have to take a both-and approach rather than either-or approach," the president said.

So how's that working out?

"We don't need to attach expanding America's energy supply to this cap-and-trade scheme that the president keeps pushing back to," Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said.