As the rest of the nation buzzed about matters of health care reform and political gamesmanship, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar quietly explained to reporters last week that the United States government will delay any new lease plan for oil drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf until at least 2012. This is a significant change from the 2010-2015 OCS lease plan left by the Bush administration and, at what essentially equates to a three-year ban on offshore drilling, an unfortunate extension of what was already an unfortunate six-month delay.
Furthermore, even if a new OCS lease plan is released by the administration in 2012, not a single offshore lease will be sold during Barack Obama’s first [and hopefully only] term in the Oval Office. So much for the president’s promises to incorporate at least a reasonable amount of offshore oil and gas drilling as part of a comprehensive strategy for energy independence. So much for this administration’s feigned concern about the scourge of joblessness in America.
Washington State Congressman Doc Hastings, ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, released the following statement today:
Secretary Salazar has finally confirmed what had long been feared – that the Obama Administration has no intention of opening up new areas for offshore drilling during his four years in office. In 2008, in a bipartisan agreement, the decades-long ban on offshore drilling was lifted [and] opened 500 million additional acres for new energy production. This area contains an estimated 14 billion barrels of oil and 55 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The American people expected the Administration to seize this incredible opportunity, not keep the ban in place for years down the road. This is now the “Obama Moratorium” on offshore drilling and the responsibility for this delay lies squarely at his feet.
Despite public comments that favored a new leasing plan by a 2-to-1 margin, the Administration has decided to disregard the overwhelming opinion of the American people who support opening additional areas to drilling. By extending this drilling ban to 2012, the Administration is single-handedly preventing new job creation, billions in new government revenue and increased energy security.
And he’s right. According to Rasmussen, a whopping 68 percent of Americans support offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. True energy independence is the key to everything in this nation — it’s the key to national security, as we would no longer be beholden to nations which do not have American interests at heart; it’s the key to economic security, as we are sitting on enough resources to not only provide for ourselves but, counting oil shale and coal and our capacity for nuclear energy, also enough to serve as a distributor of energy across the world; it’s the key to job growth, as opening up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge for drilling alone would create close to 300,000 new jobs.
But don’t listen to me. According to a recent report from the American Energy Alliance, permanently lifting the moratorium on Outer Continental Shelf drilling would facilitate the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and result in billions of dollars in new wages and tax revenues. From the report:
By the present estimates, increased production is likely to contribute an additional 0.5 percent of GDP in immediate new economic activity each year and will ultimately contribute more than 2 percent of GDP each year for thirty or more years of production. That magnitude of economic growth is expected to contribute federal and state and local tax revenue from production equivalent to approximately $350 per person over the age of eighteen per year over a similar time horizon. The total incremental contribution of increased OCS Planning Area production to GDP is more than $8 trillion (in current dollars), and total tax benefits amount to some $2.2 trillion. Total royalty revenues amount to over $400 billion.
Importantly, those benefits would be realized without any increase in direct government spending. Rather, increased OCS output would refill national, state, and local government coffers—currently depleted by the real estate and credit crises—without additional government outlays. The effects of such a stimulus are particularly attractive in the face of a severe economic downturn.
It’s the same thing I’ve been saying here at America’s Right from the very first day the president discussed the possibility of a so-called “stimulus” package more than a year ago — true stimulus, true economic growth does not come from government spending. Sure, government spending might artificially prop up GDP numbers for the sake of some positive headlines from the mainstream press, but true stimulus comes only from the facilitation of private-sector growth by fostering competition, by allowing access to resources, and by taking the leash off of the greatest economic powerhouse in the world and allowing this nation to do what it does best: grow, and blow past the rest of the world as though it is standing still.
Congressman Hastings is absolutely right to lay responsibility and blame for the delay in OCS lease planning at the feet of Barack Obama and his administration. As with any policy and decision coming from the Democratic Party leadership, the best thing we can do is ensure that they own it. Remember back in 2008 when America was faced with $4-per-gallon gasoline at the pumps? Remember what it was that began to bring the price down? That’s right — it was George W. Bush repealing a moratorium on offshore drilling put into place by his father. Showing the rest of the oil-producing world that we were serious about beginning to take control of our own energy destiny was enough to start the price of oil in a downward slide — imagine if we actually began to travel the road toward true energy independence.
There’s a reason that gasoline is as cheap as it is in Riyadh. Instead of looking for ways to make the American people more dependent upon the American federal government and the American federal government more dependent upon other regimes across the globe, this administration needs to focus on energy independence and what it would bring — jobs, growth, prosperity, security and stability. Those things, however, run afoul of the agenda espoused by the American political left. If it didn’t, Ken Salazar would have been singing a different tune last week.