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Oil industry finds itself in the President’s (and the West Coast’s) crosshairs

It was a rough day for the American oil industry—first a bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate, authored by California Sen. Barbara Boxer and co-sponsored by every Democratic Senator from the West Coast states, that would permanently ban new oil drilling off of the Pacific Coast. A congressional ban on new Pacific offshore drilling expired in 2008, and there is a current ban, under executive order of the president, in place, but that could theoretically be lifted at any time. Citing concerns from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Democratic Senators from Washington, Oregon, and California are seeking a permanent drilling moratorium. That was the right hook—the left cross came last night during President Obama’s State of the Union address when he called for an end to federal subsidies for oil companies, proposing to use the money to promote biofuels and electric vehicles instead. Both proposals will be long-shots, if they have any shot at all, to get through the Republican controlled House of Representatives, but they do signal President Obama’s willingness to get tough with oil companies. Will the oil industry get tough back?