The Hill | May 24, 2016 | Randall Luthi
Emboldened by the Obama Administration’s anti-oil and gas leasing decisions, extreme environmental groups have gained traction with the “Keep it in the Ground” campaign, demanding policies that would stop the extraction of fossil fuels from federal lands. Their argument -- preventing fossil fuel extraction will prevent spills and the release of greenhouse gases -- seems simple. But considering the tremendous benefits oil and natural gas provide, the result would be anything but simple.
"Keep it in the Ground" will diminish the energy security, opportunity and freedom that fossil fuels make possible. Affordable energy powers our economy and provides jobs and opportunity. Fossil fuels provide energy to heat and cool our homes, cook our food, run our businesses, and operate planes, trains, automobiles and boats. Modern devices, life-saving medical equipment, clothing, eye-glasses, carpeting, roads, and even the roofs over our heads are all made with petroleum based components. American consumers should carefully consider the sweeping ramifications of Keep it in the Ground:
The end of U.S. energy leadership. Without federal production, the U.S. will no longer be as energy self-sufficient. In 2014 and 2015, the U.S. produced about 88% of its energy needs. Federal lands, onshore and offshore, yielded 23% of U.S. fossil fuel production. Next year, federal offshore areas alone are expected to yield about 20% of our domestic oil. State and private development will not be enough to prevent the U.S. from losing its energy leadership position.
The recently gained benefits of U.S. oil exports will also be greatly diminished, if not extinguished. Our oil imports will increase if Keep it in the Ground succeeds, undermining U.S. leadership and returning us to reliance on imports from countries that do not support our policies. Friendly Canada will gladly increase fossil fuel exports to the U.S., but we will also import fossil fuels from unfriendly Venezuela, Russia and countries in the Middle East.
Read the full op-ed here.