The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

A Logically Flawed Approach to Energy Policy

Kyle Isakower

Kyle Isakower
Posted November 16, 2011

There are many ways to approach making policy determinations. One is to gather all of the evidence, evaluate it, and then come to a conclusion based on it.

For example, one could look at EIA projections that oil and natural gas products will supply 55% of our energy consumption in 2035 and that 41% of our liquid fuel needs in 2035 will need to be imported and then conclude that oil and natural gas will be primary fuels for a long time to come so we should pursue policies to secure our supplies.

Then you could look at studies on domestic production and see that we could create 1 million additional jobs by 2018, secure 100% of our liquid fuel needs by 2026, and provide $800 billion dollars in revenue to U.S. governments over the next twenty years and easily conclude that pro-development policies, including offshore drilling, are a smart way to go.

Another way to make policy determinations is to determine what you want the policy to be and then create, out of whole cloth, reasons to support your conclusion.

For example, BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau sought to defend the administration's lackluster offshore drilling plan this way [subscription required]:

"Part of our job is to be balanced," Beaudreau said. "Pacific drilling is an extremely sensitive and political issue on the West Coast. We've got to respect what localities there, how they feel about it." As for the East Coast, he said, "The intention is not to take the Mid- and South Atlantic off of the table in perpetuity for any potential drilling. It's the opposite. It's a considered strategy to develop information about the resource potential in the area."

See, for the Pacific, "we've got to respect what localities there, how they feel about it." However, off the Virginia coast, where localities support offshore drilling, they need to have "a considered strategy to develop information about the resource potential in the area." Or to put it another way, states' views matter when they agree with the predetermined policy to slow-walk offshore drilling, and if they disagree with that policy then they don't matter and some other reason will be found.

One of the two methods above is a logically valid and would result in a smart energy policy -- the other isn't and won't. You make the call.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kyle Isakower is vice president of regulatory and economic policy at the American Petroleum Institute. With 26 years experience, he is the go-to guy for issues regarding energy and environmental policy and oversees the development of API standards and economic analyses. In his past lives, Kyle has worked on issues related to waste management and remediation, NAAQS and air toxics—and led efforts promote the industry's energy efficiency efforts. Transplanted to Washington from north Jersey over 20 years ago, he remains faithful to the New York Giants, and works diligently to ensure his wife and two children do so as well.