Interior’s Solution to Oil and Gas Development is to Drill Less

Today, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing with regards to the Outer Continental Shelf and domestic oil and gas production.  Secretary Ken Salazar testified before the Committee on a framework for “efficient and responsible” drilling.  Unfortunately, Secretary Salazar, much in line with the Administration’s misguided policies, promoted those principles that will ultimately raise the price of energy for manufacturers and consumers alike. 

Those pillars that were endorsed by Secretary Salazar include, but are not limited to:  (1) amending the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 in order to reduce the time for oil and gas leases; (2) extending the time that the Department of Interior has for reviewing exploration plans submitted by companies; and (3) imposing fees on companies with non-producing oil and gas leases.  

The Interior is pushing for policies that are ultimately counterproductive and will not solve the current predicament of high energy, with little relief in sight.  The policies that the Interior highlighted as their “wish list” show that the Administration is out of touch with the American consumer and the needs of the manufacturing community, who consume a third of our nations’ energy. 

The Administration needs to refocus its priorities to ensure that more companies are given the opportunity to return to the Gulf of Mexico in order to explore and drill for oil and gas.  Furthermore, the Interior needs to streamline its permitting process and provide companies holding leases the time they need to safely and effectively explore and develop much needed domestic energy. 

 Finally, those companies that are not able to produce oil and gas at a given time should not be penalized, as they spend a millions of dollars exploring and developing in reliance on their leases.  Perhaps the Administration needs to look at opening those areas that are currently under a moratorium in order to ensure that companies are exploring and developing those areas with the most potential to contain oil and gas, providing more domestic energy while creating a climate for economic growth and job creation.

These misguided policies must be addressed by the administration and they must reverse course and put in place common-sense policies so energy producers can get back to work, producing domestic energy and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. This will spur job creation and continued economic growth; two critical factors that will help this country recover from the economic recession we have been battling.

Mahta Mahdavi is director of energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers

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