Posted September 25, 2015
The Washington Post reports that a coalition of environmental activists wants the Obama administration to stop new federal leasing for oil and natural gas development. Notwithstanding the broad energy, economic and security benefits produced by America’s energy revolution, the opportunity to secure America’s future and significant air quality progress, their position is simple: Keep it in the ground.
The position also is extreme, anti-progress and anti-modern – though hardly surprising. There’s a small but loud element that has little interest in safe and responsible energy development or in constant improvement of operational and environmental safety. Rather, it opposes development altogether. Their recent push is the latest sign of an agenda that would put America in retreat economically and in the world.
What’s surprising is that these activists actually concede that Americans want oil and natural gas. They acknowledge consumer demand for oil and gas – affordable, reliable and portable fuels that make life less harsh, healthier and more prosperous – but they want government to choke off that demand by cutting supply. Michael Brune of the Sierra Club, part of the coalition:
“I think that this is the next frontier of climate advocacy. … Whether it’s with Keystone XL, or an expansion of drilling in the Arctic, or leasing on public lands, we need to see some examples of the fact that the president understands that energy supply and demand are linked, and we have to start to develop a supply side strategy to address climate change.”
This “supply side strategy” takes direct aim at every American. As the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates in its 2015 Annual Energy Outlook, oil and natural gas – which supply about 63 percent of the energy we use today – will supply about 62 percent of the energy we use in 2040:
No wonder, then, that Americans overwhelmingly support safe and responsible domestic oil and natural gas development. Not by a little, by a lot – in the 80s and 90s in this survey.
As for the folks that want the U.S. to commit the unforced error of unilaterally curbing development of its own energy reserves, here’s what they’re implicitly for:
- More imports of oil and greater dependence. As EIA projects, the United States will continue to use oil well into the future, and more imports would increase U.S. dependency on others for its energy needs.
- Diminished U.S. security. At home and abroad, less domestic energy production and increased dependency would make the U.S. less secure in the world, more vulnerable to global energy pressures. Our allies would be less secure, too.
- Less economic growth. Oil and natural gas are the engines of our economy, and cutting domestic development will mean job losses, lower GDP, less revenue for government and higher household costs, according to a study by Wood Mackenzie.
These are the stakes. Some advocate policies that would hamstring U.S. economic growth and energy security. They would squander the opportunity that’s being provided by America’s energy revolution for a future that’s less secure, less prosperous. They would risk increased U.S. dependency in a world that tends to punish those who come begging, hat in hand.
The alternative is access to U.S. reserves for safe and responsible development – and the economic growth and security that comes with it. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:
“We will decide if America continues its march toward global energy leadership -- a once in a generation choice -- or remains content to play a supporting role in the global energy market. We can erase what for decades has been America’s greatest economic vulnerability -- our dependence on energy sources from other continents, particularly from less stable and friendly nations -- and fundamentally alter the geopolitical landscape for decades to come, all while providing a much needed boost to our economy. But only if we get our energy policy right.”
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.