Making the most of an opportunity

The Virginian-Pilot | May 14, 2017 | Nicolette Nye

President Donald Trump made the right decision last month when he signed an executive order designed to open more offshore areas to oil and natural gas exploration and production.
The process he has launched should overturn former President Barack Obama’s ban on offshore leasing in large portions of the Atlantic Ocean and Arctic outer continental shelf.

Obama might have scored political points with extreme environmental allies, but he ignored strong bipartisan support for — and the economic and energy security benefits of — offshore energy development. In Virginia alone, offshore development could generate 25,000 jobs, more than $14 billion in investment and nearly $2 billion in state revenue by 2035, according to a study released by Quest Offshore Resources in 2014.

In signing the executive order, Trump signaled that he recognizes that fact that offshore oil and natural gas can be safely developed and that the country needs an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy policy.
Seven years ago the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico served as a stark reminder to all of us, and particularly the hundreds of thousands of Americans who work directly or indirectly for the offshore energy industry, that safety must always be priority number one. Ever since April 20, 2010, industry and government have worked tirelessly — individually and jointly — to make accessing America’s offshore oil and natural gas resources safer.

Here are just a few examples:

  • The federal government has revised existing safety standards and created new standards covering every facet of the industry’s operations.
  • Spill prevention, containment and response all have been enhanced through the development and deployment of new technologies and procedures and through joint industry-government training.
  • The industry has established the Center for Offshore Safety, which works directly with regulators to make sure that the latest advances in safety technologies and practices are shared and adopted.
  • The industry has collaborated with state and federal agencies to create coordinated rapid response systems that can deploy at a moment’s notice to any future spill to minimize its impact.

This hard work, which continues today, plays a critical role in making the United States the world’s largest combined producer of oil and natural gas. U.S. energy production has helped to create tens of thousands of new jobs in the manufacturing sector, declaw OPEC, drive down oil imports and save drivers money at the gas pump. In addition, the Energy Information Administration predicts that fossil fuels, particularly oil and natural gas, will supply about 80 percent of the world’s energy in 2040. That source of energy cannot be used, if it is left in the ground.

Read the full op-ed here.

Nicolette Nye is vice president of communications and industry affairs at the National Ocean Industries Association. She is a retired chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy and lives in Alexandria.