Oil chiefs make case for off­shore drilling

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY TOM LOBIANCO

Top oil com­pany ex­ec­u­tives on Feb. 25 asked Congress to open the na­tion’s coasts to off­shore drilling as the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ued rev­ers­ing Bush White House poli­cies that opened na­tional land and coasts to oil ex­plo­ration.

“The choice is clear: We can con­tinue to im­port in­creas­ing vol­umes of oil and gas, or we can de­velop more of our own do­mes­tic re­sources,” said Mar vin Odum, pres­i­dent of Shell Oil Co. “Pro­duc­ing more oil and gas in our own coun­try is a no-lose propo­si­tion.”

Ex­ec­u­tives from Shell, BP Amer­ica, Devon Oil Co., ExxonMo­bil and Chevron tes­ti­fied be­fore the House Com­mit­tee on Nat­u­ral Re­sources as it held its fi­nal of three hear­ings to de­ter­mine the na­tion’s off­shore drilling pol­icy.

Demo­cratic law­mak­ers, how­ever, have been tepid to move quickly on off­shore drilling, say­ing they pre­fer to ex­am­ine fur­ther what re­sources are avail­able off­shore.

“There are clear ben­e­fits to off­shore drilling — in­clud­ing jobs, tax and royalty in­come and money that we keep here at home in­stead of send­ing it over­seas,” said com­mit­tee Chair­man Nick J. Ra­hall II, West Vir­ginia Demo­crat.

“But the amount of ad­di­tional oil that we could drill off­shore is a drop in the bucket of what we need to sus­tain our econ­omy and meet our en­ergy needs,” he said.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush lifted an ex­ec­u­tive ban on off­shore drilling last sum­mer, and Demo­cratic law­mak­ers al­lowed a con­gres­sional mora­to­rium to lapse last year in the fi­nal stretch

“Un­like the $790 bil­lion stim­u­lus pack­age law­mak­ers just passed, in­creased off­shore ac­tiv­ity would fuel our econ­omy without squan­der­ing tax­payer funds,” said Thomas J. Pyle, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can En­ergy Al­liance and the In­sti­tute for En­ergy Re­search, which ad­vo­cates free-mar­ket en­ergy poli­cies.

of the 2008 elec­tions, with gaso­line prices hov­er­ing around $4 a gal­lon.

“Un­like the $790 bil­lion stim­u­lus pack­age law­mak­ers just passed, in­creased off­shore ac­tiv­ity would fuel our econ­omy without squan­der­ing tax­payer funds,” said Thomas J. Pyle, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can En­ergy Al­liance and the In­sti­tute for En­ergy Re­search, which ad­vo­cates freemar­ket en­ergy poli­cies.

“Oil and gas is one of the U.S.’s only in­dus­tries in a po­si­tion to put money into, rather than take money out of, the gov­ern­ment’s piggy bank,” he said.

Mean­while, In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ken Salazar con­tin­ued the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pol­icy of halt­ing Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion rules and reg­u­la­tions, an­nounc­ing he would pull leases for oil shale re­search and de­vel­op­ment and al­low 90 days for the pub­lic to com­ment.

“The pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fered their oil shale leases just days be­fore leav­ing of­fice, made the parcels four times the size of the cur­rent six leases, and then locked in low royalty rates and a pre­ma­ture reg­u­la­tory frame­work for those leases,” Mr. Salazar said.

“If oil shale tech­nol­ogy proves to be vi­able on a com­mer­cial scale, tax­pay­ers should get a fair rate of re­turn from their re­source.”

Ear­lier in the month, Mr. Salazar halted a Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion plan to lease un­der­wa­ter plots on the na­tion’s outer con­ti­nen­tal shelf, ask­ing for ad­di­tional pub­lic com­ment be­fore set­ting a five-year drilling pol­icy.

Mr. Obama or­dered his En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency to re­view Cal­i­for­nia’s re­quest to strengthen car emis­sion stan­dards ear­lier this month, and asked the agency to speed the writ­ing of rules for a na­tional fuel-ef­fi­ciency stan­dard.

UNITED PRESS IN­TER­NA­TIONAL

Larry Ni­chols, chair­man and CEO of the Devon En­ergy Cor­po­ra­tion, tes­ti­fies be­fore the House Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mit­tee re­gard­ing the ef­fi­cacy of off­shore drilling for oil and nat­u­ral gas on Feb. 25.

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