The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Access to Support America’s Energy Revolution

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 22, 2016

It’s clear in a new Harris Poll on energy issues that Americans recognize the revolutionary opportunity that’s being afforded the United States by increased domestic energy production – consumer benefits, economic growth and increased security.

The poll’s registered voters see a new U.S. energy narrative, one of abundance that’s making America more self-reliant and stronger. Even more, those surveyed appreciate the fact that American-made energy is a path to future prosperity, and they want policies that help ensure that path is taken.

This is seen in a number of poll questions about access to energy reserves, which is the key to the abundant, reliable energy supply that matters most to Americans:

leadership

security

abundant

As we discussed in this post, it’s important that those running for public office this year hear what Americans are saying about energy. It’s a non-partisan message – that by sustaining and growing the American energy revolution with sound policy choices that foster safe and responsible development, America’s future can be very bright.

Nothing is more important than increasing access to U.S. reserves. Right now, 87 percent of offshore acreage under Washington’s control is off limits to energy exploration and development. From API’s new “Principles for American Energy Progress” document:

Accessing our offshore oil and natural gas resources is safer now than ever before. Regulators and the industry together have made great strides to enhance the safety of offshore operations in recent years. Staying competitive and generating our own energy does not happen overnight. It happens as a result of planning. Protecting and building on the extensive economic and energy security benefits generated by the American energy revolution should be a top priority.

Unfortunately, the next federal offshore oil and natural gas leasing program, which will be the blueprint for offshore development from 2017-2022, isn’t robust enough to adequately support U.S. world leadership in oil and gas production. A proposed Atlantic lease sale was included in an earlier draft of the program, but it was dropped, and there’s concern that other areas could be eliminated from the plan as well. API and other organizations recently submitted official comments on the proposed program to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM):

Growing U.S. production has dramatically increased our resistance to energy shocks, but our long-term energy security can only be ensured with a lasting commitment to expanding offshore oil and natural gas development to new areas. By dropping many areas from the initial proposal and this Proposed Program, BOEM has failed to do this. As our comments will demonstrate, BOEM’s analyses presented in the Proposed Program decision document do not justify removing the Atlantic from future leasing consideration. In addition, the same analyses provide ample support for not removing any additional areas in Alaska or the Gulf of Mexico from the Final Program. It is vital, therefore, that BOEM does not take additional unwarranted steps to further reduce the areas included in the final program.

API and the other groups say that the current program proposal dropped an Atlantic lease sale even though BOEM received thousands of supporting comments for it and despite bipartisan support from the governors of the affected states and a majority of the states’ congressional delegations. They point out federal reviews of applications to safely conduct badly needed seismic testing in the Atlantic have gone on nearly two years and that “agency inaction is becoming inexcusable.” They say BOEM has “grossly mischaracterized” military concerns about energy development in the Atlantic.

The federal onshore picture also is concerning. According to data compiled by the Western Energy Alliance, the number of approved applications for permits to drill in the western states (where most of the acreage under federal control is located) has been in decline (down while approvals on state and private lands have been rising:

apds

Against that backdrop, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is working on a new planning rule that API and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) say could make an already difficult federal permitting environment even more difficult.

The industry groups say BLM’s proposal “introduces significant uncertainty” into the process by creating “ambiguous standards” or by otherwise expanding agency discretion. The groups say the proposal would disfavor multiple use interests, including oil and natural gas development, by potentially subjecting each step in the process to a “new round of objections by parties committed to opposition of resource development.”

The point in both of the above examples is that instead of reasonable management of access to energy resources located in federal areas, the administration appears to be making access harder. With offshore, hurdles and delays are critically important because of the seven- to 10-year timeline between leasing and actual production.

What America needs – and what most Americans support – is a leasing and regulatory framework that ensures safe development without unnecessarily and/or endlessly delaying it. API President and CEO Jack Gerard at this week’s “Energy and Election” event:

“It is our view, and the of a majority of voters that our nation’s energy policy discussion should be an exchange of common sense ideas rooted in reality and based on the inescapable fact that we will need more energy from all sources to meet our energy needs for decades far into the future. … If we are to continue our nation’s current positive energy production trends and environmental gains, we must demand that those who act on our behalf, at all levels of government, implement energy policies that promote a brighter, better American energy future based on market-driven principles and our potential as a global energy leader.”


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.