Posted March 23, 2016
The Obama administration’s decision last week to eliminate the Atlantic from the next federal offshore leasing plan is a step backward for American energy policy. Despite bipartisan support in Congress and from voters in coastal states, the administration is doubling down on a shortsighted policy that keeps 87 percent of federally controlled offshore acreage off limits to energy exploration.
Expanding access to America’s energy resources – both offshore and onshore – is vital to our future energy security and economic growth. Oil production in the western Gulf of Mexico – one of the few locations where offshore exploration is allowed – is projected to reach 1.9 million barrels per day by 2017, accounting for 21 percent of total U.S. crude oil production.
It’s critical that the Interior Department’s final 2017-2022 leasing plan maintains maximum opportunities here, in Alaska’s Cook Inlet, and in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas, which contain more technically recoverable oil and natural gas than the Atlantic and Pacific coasts combined, according to estimates.
The economic impact of federal decisions on resource access extends well beyond the oil and natural gas industry.
Affordable U.S. energy has spurred an American manufacturing renaissance, reducing power and materials costs for producers of steel, chemicals, refined fuels, plastics, fertilizers and numerous other products. Manufacturing accounts for more than 30 percent of U.S. energy consumption, and industry leaders are speaking out about the impact the administration’s offshore policy could have on their future:
“For manufacturing to succeed, access to reliable and affordable energy is essential. Although our oil and natural gas production has been a boon for manufacturing growth and productivity in recent years, this misguided plan has the opposite effect, hurting our competitiveness, the ability to create jobs and economic growth.”
“This marks the third time in as many years that [the Interior Department] has withdrawn or withheld from development major portions of the OCS. Its approach will harm American manufacturers who rely on secure and affordable supplies of energy in order to compete in global markets. … A supply strategy that includes OCS energy will support the manufacturing renaissance taking place in the United States.”
To maintain our position as the world’s leading oil and natural gas producer, we need more access to our energy resources, not less. The administration’s misguided policy stunts the safe and responsible path to securing the domestic energy supplies needed for future energy security and economic growth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jack N. Gerard is president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry. He also has served as the president and CEO of trade associations representing the chemical and mining industries. Jack understands how Washington works. He spent several years working in the U.S. Senate and House, and co-founded a Washington-based government relations consulting firm. A native of Idaho, Jack also is very active in the Boy Scouts of America, a university graduate program on politics, and his church’s leadership. He and his wife are the proud parents of eight children, including twin boys adopted from Guatemala.