Posted March 15, 2016
With the Obama administration’s decision not to include the Atlantic in the next federal offshore leasing program, let’s connect some dots that put this unfortunate decision in a fuller context – one where the administration is choosing retreat instead of progress with its energy strategy.
First, America’s energy revolution is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that has put this country on a path toward economic growth, consumer benefits, environmental progress and a more secure energy future. Yet, omitting the Atlantic from the five-year leasing program that will largely guide offshore development from 2017 to 2022 is retreat, not progress, in efforts to produce more energy right here at home.
It’s the wrong path for America – a path also defined by administration policies that have resulted in declining oil and natural gas production on federal lands, an onslaught of unnecessary regulation and continuation of the harmful Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It’s a path that has made energy infrastructure development more problematic, a path that will negatively impact American households and one that could see the U.S. become less secure and less competitive in the world.
Including an Atlantic lease sale – as the Interior Department’s program draft did – represented significant progress in offshore energy development at a time when 87 percent of our offshore oil and gas reserves are held off limits by Washington. Indeed, the Atlantic was the only new offshore area included in the draft. Instead, the administration is taking the path of retreat. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:
“The decision appeases extremists who seek to stop oil and natural gas production which would increase the cost of energy for American consumers and close the door for years to creating new jobs, new investments and boosting energy security. This is not how you harness America’s economic and diplomatic potential. While benefiting from energy policy choices made more than a decade ago, this inconsistent policy leads to unraveling the nation's ability to be a global energy leader and has left the future of American energy and national security vulnerable for the geopolitical challenges that lie ahead.”
The U.S. energy revolution has created realities that a decade ago seemed almost unthinkable:
- The U.S. as world leader in oil and natural gas production.
- U.S. oil imports dropping to levels not seen since the mid-1990s, putting the nation on a path to achieve zero net imports by the late 2030s.
- Lower consumer costs at the gasoline pump and with home energy expenses – energy from shale and safe hydraulic fracturing growing average annual household disposable income by $1,200.
- Lower greenhouse gas emissions from increased use of cleaner-burning domestic natural gas, allowing the U.S. to lead the world in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation.
The energy revolution put the United States on a path of greater prosperity and security, yet administration policies threaten to roll back this progress, making America more dependent and less secure. More Gerard on the offshore leasing program:
“This decision stunts the safe and responsible path to securing the domestic energy supplies future generations of Americans will need. This also wipes out an opportunity to create scores of additional new jobs for Americans along the Atlantic coast and nationwide, while also erasing millions more in revenue to the government. Expanding offshore development is a key part of that equation.”
The administration’s decision on the offshore leasing program is especially concerning, because of the long lead time needed to locate, explore and develop oil and natural gas on the outer continental shelf. Getting offshore energy policy right today is the best way to ensure robust offshore production a decade or more into the future.
Unfortunately, the administration is taking the wrong path – as it is by perpetuating stagnant federal onshore oil and gas production, by advancing regulations that needlessly restrict safe energy development and by extending the market-distorting aspects of the RFS.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joins API after spending 16 years as national editorial writer in the Washington Bureau of The Oklahoman newspaper. In all, he has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, including six years as sports editor at The Washington Times. He lives in Occoquan, Virginia, with his wife Pamela. Mark graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism and earned a masters in journalism and public affairs at American University. He's currently working on a masters in history at George Mason University, where he also teaches as an adjunct professor in the Communication Department.