The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Voters Support Offshore Drilling, Government Creates Obstacles

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted August 3, 2010

A new Rasmussen poll shows that support for offshore oil and natural gas development is holding steady despite the Deepwater Horizon accident. In a survey conducted July 22-23 via telephone, 56 percent of U.S. voters think offshore drilling should be allowed, and 47 percent favor deepwater drilling.

Unfortunately, new offshore development has ground to a standstill, and shallow-water drilling operators have discovered that complying with the government's new requirements is quite difficult. Blogger Vladimir at RedState says, "Operators have encountered road blocks at every turn."

The recertification of blowout preventers (BOPs) is one of the major obstacles. Only a few firms are licensed to perform the certifications, creating a backlog of operators whose BOPs must be recertified before getting a drilling permit.

Similarly, pipeline projects have been held up because the government no longer offers blanket Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) which acknowledge that none of these routine installations is unique. Vlad says, "Now they must be assessed for the need for individual EISs, and the agency has no standards upon which to make the assessment."

Drilling permits also depend on a calculation of a "Worst Case Discharge," which Vlad calls "a theoretical and speculative exercise based on unknowable parameters" leading to debates between operators and government personnel which "are the engineering equivalent of arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin--there being no right answer, the issue can be (and is) debated ad infinitum."

Tens of thousands of men and women who depend on the oil and natural gas industry for their livelihoods could be harmed by the government's actions. And American consumers, who depend on oil and natural gas for energy, are likely to be hurt as domestic energy supplies dwindle and U.S. energy security declines.

As the new Rasmussen poll indicates, American voters recognize the offshore energy workers' value to the economy and want them to go back to work. The poll shows 65 percent feel finding new sources of energy is more important than reducing the amount of energy that Americans consume.