Repeal and replace needed for offshore energy too

washington examinerWashington Examiner | February 3, 2017 | Randall Luthi

As the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress work on the list of Obama-era laws, regulations, and executive orders they intend to overturn, let’s hope those that decreased energy security by denying access to offshore energy resources are close to the top.

Two recent decisions are particularly ripe for repeal and replace. In December, President Barack Obama unilaterally and “permanently” withdrew areas of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans from future oil and natural gas leasing. Then earlier this month, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) denied seismic survey permits that would allow sensible and environmentally safe energy exploration in the Atlantic.

Both of these decisions represent significant steps backwards in terms of U.S. economic growth and energy security. The withdrawal may not even be legal, and would seem to be inconsistent with the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act’s steadfast declaration that the OCS “is a vital national resource reserve held by the Federal Government for the public, which should be made available for expeditious and orderly development, subject to environmental safeguards, in a manner which is consistent with the maintenance of competition and other national needs.” And the permit denials conflict with BOEM’s own scientific conclusion that seismic surveys are environmentally safe.

Today, energy exploration and production is off limits in nearly 95 percent of federal offshore acreage. According to a 2014 study by Quest Offshore Resources, which my organization commissioned in concert with the American Petroleum Institute, allowing more offshore oil and natural gas production could create more than 800,000 jobs, grow the economy by as much as $70 billion a year and raise cumulative government revenue (at the local, state and federal levels) by more than $200 billion by the year 2035.

Read the full op-ed here.

Randall Luthi is the president of the National Ocean Industries Association.