Offshore Energy Plan Fails to Live up to State of the Union Promises

In President Obama’s State of the Union address, he touted his administration’s role in supposed expanded offshore oil access:

“Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.  Right now — right now — American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years.  That’s right — eight years.”

However, the 75 percent of potential offshore oil and gas resources is actually lower than both Bush and Clinton administrations before him. These comments made it seem like he is opening additional areas for development, but he is not opening additional areas at all. This is the same plan he released in early December that was criticized by many energy advocates.

Take Virginia for example. Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia has implored the administration time and time again to bring energy and jobs to Virginia. Now, he – like many others who see the direct link between offshore oil and natural gas development and job creation – supports the new GOP House American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Bill.

In light of these developments – or lack thereof –IPAA President and CEO President Barry Russell sent a letter to the Obama administration, urging Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to reconsider the 5-year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Natural Gas Leasing 5 year plan for 2012-2017, which gives limited access to America’s vast offshore resources. To see the full letter, please click here.

IPAA commented:

“The current Proposed Program is directly contrary to the impression the President left with the American people. The Proposed Program under consideration by BOEM would open no new areas of the OCS for assessment and leave exploration and development activities focused on previously leased offshore areas, most of which have been available for 50 years.

Also, 182 House members signed a bipartisan bill referencing the expectations after the moratoria in the Gulf were lifted:

“At the time these moratoria were removed, it was anticipated by the public and the Congress that without these obstacles in place the result would be that future five year plans would include significant new access to the OCS thereby laying the groundwork for new jobs, energy, and revenues… Consequently, we were disappointed that the proposed plan announced by your Department on November 8th would open no new areas of the OCS for assessment and leave exploration and development activities focused in the same places where we have been looking for a generation.”

The oil and natural gas industry is keenly aware that it must operate in offshore waters with the utmost safety. Many companies have gone above and beyond even the most stringent regulations in offshore waters in order to ensure the greatest level of worker and environmental safety. The way to progress to more safety and security is not through limiting access to the Gulf. Opening offshore areas for responsible oil and natural gas development is a must if President Obama wants to reawaken the economy – particularly in the Gulf Coast states still reeling from the moratorium. Let’s rework this 5-year plan to reflect President Obama’s encouraging remarks in the State of the Union about oil and natural gas.