Offshore Energy Essential for US National Security, Economic Prosperity

Real Clear Energy | Jim Webb & Jim Nicholson | November 28, 2018

It is self-evident that improved living standards around the world and a growing global economy will only continue with increased access to energy, of all sorts. We know from past experience that any interruption in our energy needs, temporary or otherwise, affects every one of us personally. Such interruptions also can have dramatic effects on our economy and on our national security. While alternate energy sources are welcome additions to maintaining our energy leadership, for the foreseeable future, the better economics and reliability in this regard are expected to come principally from oil and natural gas.

Projections show that natural gas and oil will supply an estimated 60 percent of U.S. energy needs in 2040, even under optimistic scenarios for renewables. Energy requirements in the rest of the world will be increasing as well. American ingenuity and productivity has been meeting this challenge, in addition to efforts in alternate energy programs. According to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, in August of this year the U.S. became the world’s No. 1 oil producer. To understand how important full energy independence is to every American, one need only look at the turbulence in our recent relations with big oil producers such as Iran, Russia, and even Saudi Arabia, who would otherwise have the potential to disrupt our economy, our national security strategy, and our very way of life.

Fueled by advanced technology and determined productivity, U.S. oil and gas producers are setting records. But to date, the American energy revolution has been primarily an onshore juggernaut, even as worldwide oil exploration in offshore areas has been increasing. Government policy has limited offshore efforts here at the same time as other countries have expanded their efforts, encouraged by vastly improved technology and by the demand for more energy to fully develop the growing, competitive economies of countries such as China.

Several Latin American countries, led by Mexico and Brazil, have reformed their regulatory approaches and are aggressively pursuing offshore projects from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic seaboard. Here in the U.S., government policy has kept as much as 94 percent of federally controlled offshore acreage off limits even to energy exploration. With modern technology it is possible to locate potentially productive sites far offshore – well beyond visibility from the coastline – and to develop them using vastly improved safety practices and working closely with federal regulators and state and local governments.

Read the full op-ed here.

Jim Webb is Former Secretary of the Navy and former Democratic Virginia Senator. Jim Nicholson is Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. They are National Chairs of Explore Offshore.