By Alan Caruba
What if I told you that the government was blocking America’s prosperity in the form of enormous untapped energy reserves that represent wealth and jobs that would once again put America on the path to fiscal security and growth?
Recently, Matt Vespa, on CNS.com reported that the International Energy Agency released a report that said the United States has the capacity to outpace Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s leading producers of oil. It projected that the U.S. could become a net oil exporter around 2020. It could become entirely self-sufficient.
Even so, the Obama administration just moved to cordon off 1.6 million acres estimated to represent one trillion barrels worth of oil in the name of conservation. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving to so encumber hydraulic fracturing—fracking—with so many regulations it will thwart increased use of this extraction technology that has been safely in use for decades.
As Dan Kish, Senior Vice President for Policy at the Institute for Energy Research, warns, there is a major government effort “to federalize hydraulic fracturing regulation” which is already being done by states “in a very professional and knowledgeable way. Take fracking away, the oil and gas production drops.”
For years, through many administrations, the federal government has been doing everything in its power to restrict drilling domestically and off-shore where billions of barrels of oil remains untapped. In October, a Wall Street Journal editorial noted that “The latest example is the Interior Department’s little-noticed August decision to close off from drilling nearly half of the 23.5 million acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.”
As far back as 1976, Congress designated the Reserve a strategic oil and gas stockpile to meet the “energy needs of the nation”, but oil and gas that is not extracted meets no needs. It keeps the nation dependent on imported oil and gas. In an August 22 letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar from the entire Alaska delegation in Congress called it “the largest wholesale land withdrawal and blocking of access to an energy resource by the federal government in decades.”
Noting that “Most of the other 11.5 million acres are almost indistinguishable from the acreage owned by the state that is being drilled safely nearby” the Journal pointed out that drilling on privately owned land has seen North Dakota pass Alaska as the second highest oil-producing state behind Texas.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, “The federal government owns roughly 635-640 million acres of the land in the United States. Four agencies administer 609 million acres of this land; the Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture, and the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service, all in the Department of the Interior.” The Bureau of Land Management manages 248 million acres and is responsible for 700 million acres of subsurface mineral resources.
Mostly by stealth, more and more privately owned land is being purchased by the federal government. In September 2011, Audrey Hudson, writing for Human Events, reported that “The Obama administration is spending $35 million to buy 30,000 acres of private property across the U.S. this year to make permanent homes for mice, fairy shrimp, mussels, prairie bushes and beetles. Those are just some of the 70 critters and plants to benefit from the land purchases in a dozen states as part of the government’s habitat conservation plans for endangered species.”
Quoting Rob Gordon of The Heritage Foundation, Hudson reported that “The federal government already owns more land than Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Poland combined.” The Endangered Species Act is just an excuse to secure ownership of more land and, in particular, to restrict development of every description from housing to hospitals.
Instead of a future in which our oil and gas reserves could unleash all manner of economic growth and the generation of thousands of new jobs, Ben Wolfgang, reporting in the November 22 edition of The Washington Times, “The drilling process that has brought the U.S. energy independence within reach faces renewed scrutiny from the Obama administration and an uncertain future in many states.”
“Next month, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release a draft of its long-awaited report on suspected links between water pollution and fracking, which uses huge amounts of water, combined with sand and chemical mixtures, to crack underground rock and release trapped oil and gas.” Fracking, however, occurs well below underground water levels and has been shown to have no effect on it.
What we are witnessing is the deliberate effort by the Obama administration, in concert with earlier administrations, to deny the economic benefit of tapping the nation’s vast reserves of oil and gas domestically and off-shore. This was evident, as well, in the President’s decision about the XL Keystone pipeline on the grounds that it threatened aquifers if allowed to proceed. Thousands of jobs were lost in that single decision with no evidence of the truth of the assertion.
As the nation sinks further into economic decline and default, it is obvious that the nation’s energy sector is being thwarted at a time when it holds the promise of lifting it out of growing unemployment, higher energy costs, and the drumbeat of utterly false environmental claims about greenhouse gas emissions.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Alan Caruba’s commentaries are posted daily at “Warning Signs” and shared on dozens of news and opinion websites. His blog recently passed more than 2 million page views. If you love to read, visit his monthly report on new books at Bookviews. For information on his professional skills, Caruba Editorial Services is the place to go! You can find Alan Caruba on both Facebook and Twitter as well.
- Noble Energy Makes Oil Discovery at Big Bend Prospect in U.S. Gulf (mb50.wordpress.com)
- China planning ‘huge fracking industry’ (guardian.co.uk)
- The Poisonous Presidency (papundits.wordpress.com)
- Edwards: Drilling bills are expected this session (times-news.com)
In a Senate speech, Senator Inhofe will draw attention to a little known video from 2010, which shows a top EPA official, Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz, using the vivid metaphor of crucifixion to explain EPA’s enforcement tactics for oil and gas producers. In this video Administrator Armendariz says:
Quote from video:
“But as I said, oil and gas is an enforcement priority, it’s one of seven, so we are going to spend a fair amount of time looking at oil and gas production. And I gave, I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting but I’ll go ahead and tell you what I said. It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. And so you make examples out of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent affect there. And, companies that are smart see that, they don’t want to play that game, and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up. And, that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, you go aggressively after them. And we do have some pretty effective enforcement tools. Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly. That’s what these companies respond to is both their public image but also financial pressure. So you put some financial pressure on a company, you get other people in that industry to clean up very quickly. So, that’s our general philosophy.”
- Coming Soon: A Controversial “Ruling” That Threatens Your Job AND the Economy (articles.mercola.com)
- EPA to slash air pollution from natural gas wells (newsok.com)
- Lisa Jackson’s EPA Goes Rogue (usnews.com)
- EPA: A Rogue Agency under a Rogue President (conservativesonfire.wordpress.com)
Oil and gas exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico will some day return to pre-BP spill levels, the president of Chevron North America Exploration and Production Company, Gary Luquette said Thursday.
But the rigorous permitting, safety and verification requirements imposed after the April 2010 BP disaster are here to stay, Gary Luquette said during an interview with The Daily Advertiser before the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce annual banquet, where he was keynote speaker.
“It’s a new normal,” Luquette said.
The industry hasn’t found its stride since the Deepwater Horizon platform operated by BP off the coast of Louisiana exploded and sunk, creating the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
That disaster, which killed 11 workers, led the federal government to impose a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling that was followed by more stringent permitting and safety regulations.
“I think activity levels can and will return to pre-Macondo (spill) levels,” he said. “The effort and rigor in getting permits approved won’t return.”
Luquette said that’s a good thing for Louisiana and the industry. The BP disaster tainted the entire industry.
Tighter permitting, regulations and oversight will help the industry rebuild public trust, he said.
The “new normal” may be too costly for some of the small independent companies to survive, Luquette said.
“In the end,” he said, “the standards are going up. It’s your responsibility to enact them.”
The Gulf of Mexico is still a major source of oil and natural gas and Chevron maintains a presence there, in deepwater and shallow water, said Luquette, a 1978 civil engineering graduate of UL Lafayette.
More than half of the company’s 2012 budget is allocated to Gulf of Mexico activity. Today, Chevron has 10 rigs operating in shallow water, he said.
Lafayette plays an important role in the industry with numerous supply and service companies operating here.
Chevron alone has 300 workers in its Lafayette office and another 300 or so working offshore out of the Lafayette office, Luquette said.
President Obama said last week in his State of the Union address that he wants to end “subsidies” to the oil and gas industry which makes billions of dollars in profits. Luquette said the energy industry creates jobs and creates wealth for the federal government.
In 2011, the oil and gas industry paid $86 million a day to the federal government in royalties, rents and tax revenue, he said. The industry also employs more than nine million either directly or indirectly.
The industry doesn’t need bailouts and such, just a level-playing field, the same so-called subsidies and breaks the federal government provides other U.S. industries and those from foreign nations, Luquette said.
- Drilling ban had ‘hidden victims’ (mb50.wordpress.com)
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Friday, October 16, issued conditional approval of Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc.’s revised Exploration Plan under leases in the Chukchi Sea Planning Area. In its Exploration Plan, Shell proposes drilling up to six exploration wells in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea beginning in the 2012 drilling season.
This decision follows the bureau’s completion of a site-specific Environmental Assessment that examined the potential environmental effects of the plan. The conditions of approval require Shell to comply with a range of important safety and environmental protection measures.
BOEM’s conditional approval does not authorize Shell to commence exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea. Shell must satisfy the conditions of BOEM’s approval, as well as obtain approvals from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) regarding its Oil Spill Response Plan and well-specific applications for permit to drill.
“Our scientists and subject matter experts have carefully scrutinized Shell’s proposed activities,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “We will continue to work closely with agencies across the federal government to ensure that Shell complies with the conditions we have imposed on its Exploration Plan and all other applicable safety, environmental protection and emergency response standards.”
Shell acquired its leases in the Chukchi Sea in 2008 under Lease Sale 193, which BOEM recently reaffirmed after completing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. All of these leases are subject to a series of stipulated requirements to mitigate operational and environmental risks, and the conditions for approval of Shell’s Exploration Plan build on and expand those requirements.
Among the conditions of approval is a measure designed to mitigate the risk of an end-of-season oil spill by requiring Shell to leave sufficient time to implement cap and containment operations as well as significant clean-up before the onset of sea ice, in the event of a loss of well control. Given current technology and weather forecasting capabilities, Shell must cease drilling into zones capable of flowing liquid hydrocarbons 38 days before the first-date of ice encroachment over the drill site. Based on a 5-year analysis of historic weather patterns, BOEM anticipates November 1 as the earliest anticipated date of ice encroachment. The 38-day period would also provide a window for the drilling of a relief well, should one be required.
- Shell clears hurdle in bid to drill in Alaska (marketwatch.com)
- Conditional OK for Shell’s Alaska offshore oil plan (reuters.com)
- Shell Gets Nod to Drill in Arctic (mercurynews.com)