Undoing the damage done to the nation’s energy future
On its way out the door, the Obama administration has made two short-sighted decisions about the nation’s energy future. First, it withdrew areas in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans from future oil and natural gas leasing opportunities. And then it denied seismic survey permits needed for exploration in the Atlantic even in areas not included in the ban. These are decisions that the incoming Trump administration and Congress should reverse.
The withdrawal may not even have been legal. The law that the president cited, called the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act, states that the shelf represents “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 standards, in a manner which is consistent with the maintenance of competition and other national needs.” Permanently withdrawing such a large area contradicts this language.
And the denial of the seismic survey permits is simply unnecessary. In denying the permits, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) dismissed its own finding that there is no documented scientific evidence that seismic surveys harm marine mammals or the environment. It also makes it impossible for industry to update what is now more than 30-year-old seismic data related to oil and natural gas deposits in the Atlantic.
Here in Louisiana we understand well the many benefits derived from offshore energy. Other states should be offered the same opportunity. A 2013 study found that providing access to the Atlantic’s offshore oil and gas resources alone could deliver 280,000 jobs and $51 billion in cumulative government revenue by 2035. The Arctic would only add to this tally.
In discussing Obama-era regulations that Congress will seek to overturn, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan recently included the withdrawal of leasing opportunities on his list, saying the decision “was not permanent; we’re very clear about that.” Let’s hope the speaker and other leaders in Washington move quickly to repair the damage done by the outgoing administration to the offshore energy industry
Brady Como is Executive Vice President of Delmar Systems Inc. Based in Broussard, Louisiana, Delmar Systems provides mooring services to the offshore oil and gas industry.