More Alaskan and Offshore Drilling? Yesss!

“America’s central position in the global energy system as a leading producer, consumer, and innovator ensures that markets are free and U.S. infrastructure is resilient and secure.”  — NSS Report, Dec. 2017

Ryan Zinke and Donald Trump

The idea of U.S. energy independence — or even dominance — and its role in our national security strategy is not new — certainly not for the Trump administration. Candidate Trump campaigned on it. Back in June 2017, President Trump announced a rollback of regulations on energy production and development. The tax-cut legislation passed by Congress last month includes — don’t ask me where — verbiage directing the Interior Dept. to finally open up up to 2000 acres in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for drilling. (This could bring in as much as $2.2 billion in lease sales over the next 10 years for just a relatively “little slice of tundra”.) And just last week, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced “the new draft offshore oil and gas plan – next step public comment period.”

Right now, 94% of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is off-limits. The new proposal will make “over 90 percent of the total OCS acreage and more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available to consider for future exploration and development.”

“The Draft Proposed Program (DPP) includes 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas – 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, 7 in the Pacific Region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and 9 in the Atlantic Region. This is the largest number of lease sales ever proposed for the National OCS Program’s 5-year lease schedule….

Inclusion of an area in the DPP is not a final indication that it will be included in the approved Program or offered in a lease sale, because many decision points still remain. By proposing to open these areas for consideration, the Secretary ensures that he will receive public input and analysis on all of the available OCS to better inform future decisions on the National OCS Program. Prior to any individual lease sale in the future, BOEM will continue to incorporate new scientific information and stakeholder feedback in its reviews to further refine the geographic scope of the lease areas.”

Zinke added a note to try to allay the fears of certain parties…

“Just like with mining, not all areas are appropriate for offshore drilling, and we will take that into consideration in the coming weeks. The important thing is we strike the right balance to protect our coasts and people while still powering America and achieving American Energy Dominance.”

Acting BOEM Director Walter Cruickshank reminds readers that:

“American energy production can be competitive while remaining safe and environmentally sound. Public input is a crucial part of this process, and we hope to hear from industry groups, elected officials, other government agencies, concerned citizens and others as we move forward with developing the 2019-2024 National OCS Program.”

Environmentalists are not convinced, of course, and they use terms like “beyond reckless” and “radical…free-for-all”. That sort of alarmist hyperbole is expected from them, and it’s what their followers want to hear. But, a few Republicans are pushing back in part, as well. In particular, my own state’s Governor Rick Scott and Senator Marco Rubio have expressed concern over the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and those areas closest to Florida. (I don’t know the specific issues, but I’m hoping that bipartisan efforts can determine a reasonable solution.)

This greatly expanded drilling into our natural oil and gas reserves can and will be quite a boon to local, state, and national economies. Plus, of course, there is the benefit of increased energy independence/dominance, as we will be increasingly less reliant upon, shall we say, less than desirable trade partners. For example, let’s look back to the ANWR drilling I mentioned earlier. As per Paul Driessen’s recent article,

“The U.S. Geological Survey and Congressional Research Service say it’s 95% likely that there are 15.6 billion barrels of oil beneath ANWR. With today’s exploration, drilling, fracking and other technology, up to 60% of that may ultimately be recoverable.

At $50 a barrel, that represents $460 billion that the USA would not have to send overseas; tens of billions in Alaskan and United States royalty and tax revenues; and thousands of jobs in oilfield, manufacturing and many other sectors.

After the IRS, oil company oil and gas royalty payments represent the single largest contribution to the U.S. treasury. Companies that produce from federal onshore and offshore leases pay royalties of up to 18% of wellhead prices, and then pay corporate taxes on profits and sales taxes at the pump. Workers pay income taxes, instead of receiving unemployment and welfare checks.”

I won’t attempt to summarize it here, but Driessen also explains why environmental activists’ predictions of dire consequences from opening up ANWR for drilling are inaccurate, inconsistent, and “absurd”. (Lots of good stuff in that article.)

If that isn’t enough, last month Heritage’s Nicolas Loris wrote an article for The Daily Signal in which, based on part of the administration’s recent NSS report, he briefly explained “five ways for the U.S. to improve its energy standing in the world.”

Reduce barriers: Use recent reports from the EPA and the Depts. of Energy and the Interior as “a useful road map to rolling back costly, ineffective regulations and expanding opportunities for new resource development and energy infrastructure.”

Promote exports: “Providing more energy choices to both producers and consumers will generate jobs and grow the economy. Expediting the permitting process for liquefied natural gas exports is a commonsense reform….”

Ensure energy security: “Government planning, quotas, subsidies, tariffs, and other market-distorting policies have promoted favoritism, not energy dominance. Competition and diversification can improve energy security….”

Attain universal energy access: The U.S. can and should use its full energy resources to not only “enhance the well-being of families and businesses across the country” but “be a major supplier to meeting energy needs in the developing world.”

Further America’s technological edge: Government favoritism (e.g., via tax codes or bailouts) stifles the type of technological innovation that “unlocks new resources, supplies affordable power, and generates new employment opportunities.” Such favoritism needs to end, so that a “variety of energy sources and technologies [can] provide Americans with dependable electricity and transportation fuels.”

It’s all tied together. There’s more, but you get the gist.

Seems to me that an expansion in ecologically-responsible drilling and free-market technological innovation in the energy industry are not only eminently possible but crucial elements for enhancing American lives, growing our economy, aiding our neighbors, and ensuring national security. This sounds like the beginning of another win for the Trump administration and for America.


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