The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The United States of Red Tape

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 14, 2012

In terms of energy development – we are a nation bound up in red tape. The graphic below hardly exaggerates the current state of play:  By federal policy and regulation we’re self-limiting the dynamic potential of America’s domestic energy wealth.

API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“We hear talk about an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy, but in practical terms of removing the obstacles that are standing in the way of American made energy, this strategy has translated into ‘none of the below.’  We need action today to make sure we have the energy we will need tomorrow.  There are dozens of measures, large and small, that Washington could and should pursue.”

Here’s what he’s talking about – 10 opportunities for economic growth and job creation through an energy strategy that’s realistic, broad and visionary:

  • Reverse policies that keep 87 percent of our offshore acreage off-limits. We need expanded access to our outer continental shelf resources, coupled with a robust pace of federal permitting to ensure safe, responsible exploration and development.
  • Improved leasing and permitting in the West. Leasing, permitting and drilling were all down under administration polices, according to this study released in January.  While overall U.S. oil and natural gas production has increased, it’s due to development on state and private lands, not on areas controlled by the federal government.
  • Open a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northernmost Alaska to energy development. ANWR’s 1 million barrels of oil per day remain on the shelf as a result of conscious policy decisions, helped along by short-sighted, nonsensical political arguments.
  • Develop workable solutions to problems wrought by biofuels mandates under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and EPA decisions. One example is EPA’s move to push E15 fuel into the marketplace prematurely, even though a recent study showed fuel with 15 percent ethanol content could damage engines in automobiles and trucks and other engines. Another is the RFS mandate on cellulosic ethanol despite the fact none is being produced commercially in this country. The mandate forces refiners to buy credits for a non-existent fuel.
  • Rein in scientifically unjustifiable regulatory moves by EPA on air quality that could harm jobs and economic growth without necessarily producing added health benefits – such as the current proposal on particulate matter and one on ozone that ultimately was withdrawn last fall.
  • Continued improvements to EPA’s new rule on greenhouse gas emissions from oil and natural gas production, including hydraulic fracturing. Critical issues with the rule remain that could cause widespread non-compliance unless there are technical clarifications.
  • Foster a genuine, cooperative approach to new regulations on shale gas and hydraulic fracturing that ends the current multi-agency, top-down federal approach that could chill or stifle future development of a game-changing resource.
  • Take a free-market, free-trade approach to the export of abundant natural gas – as opposed to artificial restrictions on a valued U.S. commodity that could slow production and cost jobs.
  • Approve construction of the full Keystone XL pipeline. It would be integral to thousands of new U.S. jobs and help increase our energy security through a closer partnership with neighbor and ally Canada. Over time the excuses for not building the Keystone XL have worn thin. The project is supported by about 75 percent of respondents in a new Harris Interactive survey.
  • Put an end to calls for higher taxes on America’s oil and natural gas companies. The industry sends $86 million a day – $30 billion a year – to the U.S. treasury in rents, royalties and income tax payments. According to a study by the Wood Mackenzie energy consulting firm, higher energy taxes would result in less energy, fewer jobs and less tax revenue to government.  

That’s quite a list, but implementing a strategy for American-made energy, one that makes us more secure and self-reliant, isn’t as complicated as it may seem. Gerard:

“We need to see more than lip service from Washington about ending this stranglehold on economic growth. And this is what people are paying attention to, and this uncertainty is having a detrimental effect on investment in the economy and investment in American workers.”

Energy isn’t a partisan issue, it’s an American issue. Regular Americans can and should get involved. One way is to pledge support for American-made energy by signing this online pledge furnished by our friends at Energy Citizens.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.