06/17/2011 09:47 am ET Updated Aug 17, 2011

Is Obama Blocking Alaska Oil Drilling?

Has President Obama raised a "stop sign" on oil drilling in Alaska or off the Arctic coast?

Some people seem to think so, even though there's plenty of evidence out there that shows the federal government is moving ahead, albeit slowly, with permitting proposed projects and selling leases in Alaska.

It's become a favorite claim of Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, who himself likes to file lawsuits aimed at pushing back against the federal government and fighting federal policies.

Earlier this month, a Wall Street Journal editorial headlined "Alaska's Ebbing Oil" attempted to make the case that the White House has an environmental agenda driving it to stop all oil and gas development in the Arctic. That would be news to the myriad environmental organizations who supported Obama in 2008 and now see him as somewhat of a double-crosser. His Interior Department continues to issue permits for Alaska-area drilling which causes the conservationists to keep filing lawsuits in an effort to block development. They have as harsh of words for the president and his agencies as they do for Shell Oil.

Then, on June 6, at the nationally televised Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire, former Sen. Rick Santorum claimed Obama "has put (up) a stop sign... against oil drilling, against any kind of exploration offshore or in Alaska."

Now, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking news site,, has looked at Santorum's claim and has this to say:

It's true that the Obama Administration pulled back the reins after the BP spill. But the administration has continued approving shallow-water wells, and it began to approve deep-water wells again after the moratorium was lifted six months ago. Just because the pace isn't as fast as some would like doesn't mean that Obama 'has put (up) a stop sign ... against oil drilling, against any kind of exploration offshore or in Alaska.' At most, it would be a yellow light, and Santorum's claim -- referring to curbs on "any kind" of exploration -- is over-broad. So we rate Santorum's claim False.

It's worth reading the entire article and even checking out the details backing up the Politifact research in the links provided on the site.