Posted March 2, 2016
Last year, when federal officials released the proposal for the next five-year offshore drilling plan, we said the draft had some positive aspects but fell short of the kind of strategic offshore planning that would adequately serve America’s role as an energy superpower. We also noted strong support for offshore development by mid-Atlantic states, where operations could occur under the draft plan.
Fast-forward to this month, with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) expected to reassess a plan that would be the blueprint for offshore energy development from 2017 through 2022. The need for a robust offshore leasing plan remains critically important – and the plan should retain the single Atlantic lease sale that was included in BOEM’s draft. Members of Congress recently urged this in a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell:
“According to the EIA, Gulf of Mexico production is estimated to increase to record high levels in 2017. This increase in production is a result of the leasing decisions made a decade or more ago. Knowing that oil and natural gas will be needed for many more decades to come, DOI should not prematurely close the door on future leasing and exploration of the Atlantic OCS. Decisions made today matter.”
Public support for mid-Atlantic offshore energy development is strong. New public opinion polling shows that offshore oil and natural gas development is favored by sizable majorities in Virginia (65 percent), North Carolina (64 percent) and South Carolina (67 percent). Virginia Petroleum Council Executive Director Miles Morin:
“With the existing port, infrastructure, and wide variety of maritime industries like shipbuilding and engineering, Hampton Roads can help strengthen our national security and fuel the energy our nation demands. The military has considerable input into areas in the Atlantic that can be explored and, given that the proposed area for development is well past the horizon at 50 miles, offshore platforms would not be visible from land.”
North Carolina Petroleum Council Executive Director David McGowan:
“North Carolina is uniquely positioned to add jobs and create revenue for local needs through energy development, like schools, infrastructure, beach re-nourishment and inlet dredging. North Carolina has the largest coastal area within the proposed leasing zone, meaning we stand to benefit more than any other Atlantic Coast state. … Energy development can safely coexist with our current tourism and fishing industries while at the same time providing much needed diversity for our local economies.”
Certainly, the residents of the three mid-Atlantic states are aware of the economic and energy benefits that could result from safe offshore oil and gas development. It’s reflected in polling data that shows strong support for domestic energy and the U.S. energy revolution:
- More than 80 percent of those surveyed in the three states say it’s important to them to produce more oil and natural gas here at home (South Carolina 89 percent, Virginia 87 percent, North Carolina 82 percent).
- More than 85 percent in each state agree that more domestic oil and gas development could lead to more U.S. jobs (South Carolina 92 percent, Virginia and North Carolina 88 percent).
- More than 80 percent in each state agree that more domestic oil and gas could help lower energy costs for consumers (South Carolina 86 percent, Virginia 83 percent, North Carolina 82 percent).
South Carolina Petroleum Council Executive Director Bonnie Loomis:
“A strong bipartisan majority of voters in South Carolina continue to support producing more domestic energy and creating more jobs in the state. Cutting-edge technologies and a core value of safety have helped make the U.S. the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world while protecting the environment and creating jobs in South Carolina.”
The economic, consumer and security benefits of America’s energy revolution are real and simply require policy decisions that will help sustain the revolution and its contributions. This includes access to energy reserves controlled by Washington, offshore and onshore. The potential benefits of expanded access to the Atlantic offshore is a guide. A Quest Offshore Resources study projects that by 2035 expanded Atlantic access could create 280,000 jobs, result in cumulative capital investment of $194 billion, increase total GDP/year $23 billion, generate cumulative government revenue $51 billion and add 1.34 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.
These are some of the significant benefits from safe offshore development. In this election year, it’s never been more important for Americans to consider energy policy as they make voting choices.
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.