Canceling, delaying, banning domestic offshore exploration will increase tanker traffic, foreign imports
IER President: “Canceling lease sales is purely a public relations move designed to show that the White House is doing ‘something’ to address the tragic accident in the Gulf. But the truth is, if these lease sales move forward, exploration in those areas would not take place for years.”
Washington, DC – President Barack Obama announced today that his Administration will delay, ban or cancel existing offshore lease sales in Virginia and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as scheduled exploration set to move forward in Alaska and the deepwater Gulf. Unfortunately, this politically calculated announcement will do absolutely nothing to help stem the current flow of oil or clean up the Gulf Coast’s environment.
While the President’s initial response to the accident — freezing the issuance of new permits — was appropriate, the outright suspension of current and planned exploratory drilling will add to the economic damage this tragic accident has already caused.
Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), issued this statement:
“Canceling lease sales is purely a public relations move designed to show that the White House is doing ‘something’ to address the tragic accident in the Gulf. But the truth is, if these lease sales move forward, exploration in those areas would not take place for years.”
“There’s an inherent disconnect here, especially as it relates to Alaska’s offshore energy reserves, where exploratory drilling was scheduled to begin this summer. Not only is President Obama failing to acknowledge or recognize the fact that the production environment in the Arctic is completely different than the deepwater Gulf, but his Administration is discounting the years of environmental assessment that have taken place to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place.
“Nothing in life, including offshore energy exploration, is without risk. However, the only thing the President’s misguided actions guarantee is a deeper and more dangerous reliance on foreign oil, from unfriendly nations and increased tanker traffic into our ports. Rather than focusing on a short-term bump in the public opinion polls, this Administration should be working to unlock more job-creating American energy.”
Quick Facts on offshore energy production:
- Since 1985, more than 7 billion barrels of oil have been produced in federally owned outer continental shelf (OCS) – with 0.001 percent of it spilled into the water. (MMS)
- According to MMS, the approximately 43 million leased along the OCS, account for about 15 percent of America’s domestic natural gas production and about 27 percent of domestic oil production. (MMS)
- This equates to roughly 600 million barrels of oil and 4.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, on average, annually. (MMS)
- To put this into perspective, the United States imported roughly 550,000 million barrels of oil from Saudi Arabia in 2008. (EIA)
- According to the National Academy of Sciences, offshore facilities and pipelines are responsible for only 2 percent of the oil in U.S. waters and 4 percent worldwide. The vast majority of oil in U.S. waters (63 percent) comes from natural seepage, with 22 percent coming from municipal and industrial runoff. (NAS / MMS)