Center for Property Rights

Orlando Sen⁠t⁠⁠i⁠nel — Explor⁠i⁠ng Gulf could help U.S. ach⁠i⁠eve energy ⁠i⁠ndependence

By: Dr. J. Robert McClure / 2015

Orlando Sentinel
“Exploring Gulf could help U.S. achieve energy independence”
March 11, 2015
By J. Robert McClure
1977, President Jimmy Carter established the U.S. Department of Energy, with — among other things — the goal of making America completely energy independent. We have pursued this laudable goal in a variety of ways, through the development of traditional fossil fuels, renewables such as solar and wind, and advances in technology such as compressed and liquefied natural gas along with hydraulic fracturing.America’s energy independence is a national security issue with the highest degree of priority for the future prosperity of our children and their children. However, the recent proposals from President Obama should be viewed as a half-step forward and three steps back.America is currently in the midst of an energy renaissance unlike any in recent history. Oil prices are at historic lows, and the push toward greater energy independence has sent OPEC nations scrambling to flood the market with cheap oil in an attempt to thwart America’s push against reliance on foreign energy. This is no more evident than in the prairie of North Dakota, which is touting 30-plus percent increases in gross domestic product and more six-figure jobs per capita than Manhattan.This revival is under threat as President Obama’s actions prove he continues to deny basic economics and free-market principles — and does so in contrast to the will of those who re-elected him.On Jan. 27, President Obama took a small, positive step, announcing his approval of expanded exploration off the Atlantic coast in an area stretching from Virginia to Georgia. At the same time, however, the administration designated much of the Gulf and Arctic as off limits. The Interior Department itself estimates that only about 2 billion to 3 billion gallons of oil are recoverable in the South Atlantic — by contrast more than 43 billion gallons are recoverable in untapped Gulf areas.According to data from the federal government’s own Energy Information Administration, oil and natural gas supply about 60 percent of all energy consumed in the U.S. This is projected to increase to 64 percent by 2040, with the bulk of the increase coming in natural-gas consumption. However, 87 percent of federal offshore acreage is off-limits to development, including almost all of the Eastern Gulf, 98 percent of which is under a leasing moratorium.In Florida, this need will be all the more prevalent. Florida is now the third most-populous state, and will grow by roughly 6 million residents over the next 15 years. In addition, Florida will host upwards of 100 million visitors per year. Our energy needs will absolutely be paramount.Opening the Eastern Gulf to exploration would mean job growth north of 250,000, 1 million additional barrels of oil per day, and $18 billion in additional annual economic activity. In addition, overwhelming majorities of Americans support expanded exploration and drilling for domestic oil and gas resources by close to 2-to-1 margins.An article from The Federalist’s David Harsanyi highlights the incontrovertible fact that oil and natural gas will continue to be the primary source of energy consumption for the long term. He writes, “The Institute for Energy Research estimates we have enough natural gas in the U.S. to meet electricity needs for around 575 years at current fuel demand and to fuel homes heated by natural gas for approximately 857 years — because we have more gas than Russia, Iran, Qatar and Saudi Arabia combined.”While we should absolutely be considerate of environmental concerns, we must also recognize the ingenuity of American entrepreneurs. Technological advances continue to make energy exploration and production cleaner and more environmentally sustainable.The undeniable fact is that the U.S. needs more oil and natural-gas exploration, development and production. Flatly rejecting the idea of tapping Arctic and Gulf reserves is a denial of geopolitical, economic and scientific logic. Energy security translates to both economic and national security. A president entrusted with that critical charge should not turn away from policies that bolster it.J. Robert McClure is president and CEO of The James Madison Institute in Tallahassee.Article: