The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

U.S. Needs Responsible Offshore Development, Not Duplicative Regulation

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 26, 2013

API is partnering with the National Ocean Industries Association and the Independent Petroleum Association of America in an effort to warn of a provision in a water development bill (S.601) that could limit future offshore oil and natural gas activity.

In a letter to members of a House-Senate conference committee considering the legislation, the three groups cite a portion of the bill that would create a National Endowment for the Oceans – which the groups argue could result in “additional and unnecessary authority over ocean resources.” The groups write that regulations already exist to manage those resources. From the letter:

We oppose the establishment of a National Endowment for the Oceans given the broad range of potential uses of this funding and the possibility that these funds could be used to limit multiple uses of the ocean. Of particular concern to us are the provisions that will allow for funding of activities to implement (Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning) through regional planning bodies and to acquire coastal property and put it off limits to future development. Given the lack of current data regarding potential energy resources in certain Outer Continental Shelf areas, actions that serve to limit future energy development opportunities could negatively impact the offshore energy industry and in turn the nation’s economic growth potential and energy security.

The concern here is significant, given the vast potential for safe and responsible development of America’s offshore reserves. The federal government estimates 88.6 billion barrels of oil and 398.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas have yet to be discovered on the U.S. outer continental shelf, though those estimates are 30 years old. The reserves could hold much more energy than that. As the map below shows, the overwhelming majority of our offshore acreage currently is closed to development:

offshore_acreage

More access to these areas would mean more energy, jobs and energy security for our country. Also key is a stable, predictable regulatory climate that would allow U.S. oil and natural gas companies the certainty they need to make long-term investments in offshore exploration. The oceans endowment provision in the water development bill is unnecessary and could impact that certainty. Again, from the groups’ letter:

… the U.S. already has in place the proper regulatory tools to manage ocean resources while balancing the needs of economic development and environmental conservation. As such, we are opposed to Title XII of S. 601, which establishes a National Endowment for the Oceans as it creates additional and unnecessary authority over ocean resources.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.