The American energy renaissance continues to benefit nearly every segment our economy, including manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, construction, retail and services.
Without this renaissance, which has been led by the development of oil and gas in the shale plays, our recent economic recovery might not have been possible.
The recovery, which started with years of slow economic growth, now appears to be accelerating, with factors indicating robust growth and investment ahead.
But despite these clear economic benefits, many politicians and organized groups remain opposed to energy projects and to taking steps to further our ability to find, develop, deliver and utilize fossil energy.
One of the arguments you hear is: “We’re already the world’s leading oil and gas producer, so why do we need more?” According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. will become a net exporter for oil and gas in the next decade. Such is the argument against pipeline projects, offshore development and allowing access to energy resources on federal lands.
But we still import 9.7 million barrels of petroleum daily, including about 2.9 million barrels per day from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and 1.4 million barrels per day from the Persian Gulf. That’s about 50% of daily supplies. Federal waters like the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic coast and offshore Alaska – 94 percent of which are not open to development – have the resources we need to whittle this dependency.
A process is underway by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to develop a leasing plan that might offer acreage in these areas. Opposition groups are working hard to derail it.
Yet coastal states like South Carolina would benefit. For decades, the state has seen jobs in textile and manufacturing industries move overseas. As such, South Carolina ranks just 39th in the nation for economic opportunity, 43rd for median household income and 40th for households below the poverty line. Offshore development could create more than 35,000 jobs, more than $18 billion in economic activity and $4 billion in state revenue.
Onshore, the potential is equally significant. Consider Ohio, a leading energy-producing state with some of the most stringent environmental standards enacted. Its oil and gas renaissance has allowed the manufacturing sector to support 700,000 jobs, $39 billion in annual payroll and $50 billion in products. The Trump administration knows that federal lands which were hands-off under the Obama administration can deliver similar benefits to other states. That’s why it’s working to reverse the prior administration’s policies.
Now is not the time for us to take our foot off the accelerator. We now have an opportunity to export more oil and gas, reduce our trade deficit and to make us an energy superpower.
So, weigh in on public comment periods. Advocate for the BOEM Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Plan and for lease sales on federal lands. Support increased access to energy resources.
Be like Ohio, and show that energy dominance and environmental balance can – and do – go together.
Jack Belcher is executive vice president for HBW Resources and consults energy and transportation clients on government relations, regulatory affairs, situational risk management, coalition building and stakeholder relations. He is also Managing Director of the National Ocean Policy Coalition.
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