Lexington says they are not what they seem:

So long as Americans do not reduce their consumption of oil, refusing to drill at home means importing more of the stuff, often from places with looser environmental standards. The net effect is likely to be more pollution, not less. Nigeria, for example, has had a major oil spill every year since 1969, observes Lisa Margonelli of the New America Foundation, a think-tank. Putting a price on carbon would eventually spur the development of cleaner fuels, and persuade Americans to switch to them. But in the meantime, oil is both useful and precious. Extracting it domestically, with tougher safety rules, would bring a windfall to a Treasury that sorely needs one. When the current crisis is past, Mr Obama may remember this.

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