Safe Oil Exploration is Making a Comeback in the U.S.

New Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is wasting no time implementing Trump’s agenda at his respective department. He announced yesterday that his department will offer 73 million acres in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration development–the opposite of what his predecessor Sally Jewell did.

“Opening more federal lands and waters to oil and gas drilling is a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy independent,” Secretary Zinke said in a statement. “The Gulf is a vital part of that strategy to spur economic opportunities for industry, states, and local communities, to create jobs and home-grown energy and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The proposed Gulf of Mexico lease sale – Proposed Lease Sale 249- includes  Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Here’s more from Interior:

Proposed Lease Sale 249, scheduled to be livestreamed from New Orleans, will be the first offshore sale under the new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022 (Five Year Program). Under this new program, ten region-wide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf, where the resource potential and industry interest are high, and oil and gas infrastructure is well established. Two Gulf lease sales will be held each year and include all available blocks in the combined Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas.

The sale would include “all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico,” the Department of Interior press release notes. Per Department of Interior estimates, they anticipate 0.211 to 1.118 billion barrels of oil from 0.547 to 4.424 trillion cubic feet of gas developed when this region-wide lease sale goes live.

This is a bold contrast to the previous administration, which was keen to banning offshore drilling and gas exploration altogether. Although news outlets suggest this Interior department is replicating a similar action from the last administration, Zinke  is expected to challenge the bans on offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. When he testified before Congress in January, he affirmed his support for offshore drilling to reduce reliance on foreign oil.

He said, “I can guarantee you it is better to produce energy domestically under reasonable regulation than overseas with no regulation … We need an economy.”

The Obama administration placed moratorium on any new opportunities for offshore drilling, which has had negative ramifications on the economy and job growth. On November 8, 2011, the Obama administration placed a five-year moratorium prohibiting any new offshore drilling by only permitting lease sales to occur on areas already open to oil and gas exploration. This five-year plan excluded the majority of Alaska and made the entire Pacific and Atlantic Coasts off-limits to offshore drilling and gas exploration–thus undermining efforts to stimulate job growth.

Moreover, former President Obama used the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act last December to protect large areas in the Arctic Ocean and string of canyons in the Atlantic Ocean which stretch from Massachusetts south to Virginia. The latter move supplemented a five-year moratorium already in place in the Atlantic–which deliberately made much of the eastern seaboard off-limits to oil exploration. This moratorium is set to expire this year.

The Department of Interior is responsible for overseeing our nation’s lands, water, wildlife, and energy resources, among many things. Zinke has committed to not only protecting wildlife and public lands, but to also overseeing the safe exploration of natural resources. This is a good first step to restoring sanity in this department.

Let’s hope the economy and environment can begin to work in sync with one another.

 

 

 

 

Obama’s Precedent on Oil Drilling Will Fail Because He Accepted George Bush’s Precedent

After days of saying how unfair and undemocratic it was for the North Carolina legislature to take power away from the incoming governor, President Obama sought yesterday to take power away from the incoming President. Specifically, Barack Obama used Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to block Donald Trump from authorizing oil drilling leases in perpetuity in the Atlantic Arctic areas.

But there is a problem. Democrats have still not come to terms with the use of precedents. Jamie Dupree breaks it down here.

In a nutshell, Barack Obama

used a 1953 law known as the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, to block new drilling leases, “for a time period without specific expiration.”

“This withdrawal prevents consideration of this area for any future mineral leasing for purposes of exploration, development, or production,” the President wrote, extending the drilling ban to almost 4 million acres in the Atlantic Ocean, and well over 100 million acres in the Arctic.

The law itself uses this language:

The President of the United States may, from time to time, withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the outer Continental Shelf.

But as Jamie Dupree notes,

While Democrats said that a President Trump could not reverse the Obama declaration, past experience tells a different story.

For example in 1998, President Bill Clinton extended through 2012 an offshore drilling ban put in place by President George H.W. Bush – but in 2008, President George W. Bush cut four years off of that Clinton proclamation.

In his order issued in July of 2008, Mr. Bush used the language “without specific expiration” – in other words, no time limit – that same language was used in today’s order by President Obama.

“I hereby withdraw from disposition by leasing for a time period without specific expiration,” Mr. Obama ordered.

Both Presidents cited provision 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act from 1953 to do the exact opposite thing – Obama taking certain lands away from possible drilling, Bush making the areas eligible again for oil and gas exploration.

Barack Obama, so eager to preserve and expand the power of the Presidency, acquiesced to George W. Bush’s use of the same provision 12(a). The precedent and interpretation were established by Bush and agreed to by Obama, who only now, at the end of his administration, claims a contradictory interpretation that runs counter to the precedent he already accepted.

That won’t actually fly in court because it is proof Obama does not really believe his actions permanently prevent future presidents from acting. All it does is drive up the litigation cost.

And let’s be honest here, all this does is wave a red flag in front of Donald Trump drawing his attention to a challenge he will gladly accept.

BREAKING: Outdoorsman Ryan Zinke Selected Secretary of Interior

Congressman Ryan Zinke of Montana is reportedly being tapped to lead the Department of Interior.

This is breaking news per POLITICO:

President-elect Donald Trump has offered the interior secretary position to Montana’s freshman Rep. Ryan Zinke, an ex-Navy Seal commander, according to two transition officials and someone familiar with the offer.

It was previously reported that Cathy McMorris Rodgers would serve in this role. Zinke, if confirmed, will succeed outgoing secretary and former REI CEO Sally Jewell.

Zinke has voted to preserve Montana’s public lands for fishing, hunting, and use by outdoor enthusiasts. He also sat on the House Committee for Natural Resources. Zinke is also a strong supporter of the Second Amendment:

 

The Secretary of Interior is responsible for overseeing America’s natural resources–including oil and gas.

One thing is for sure, the new Department of Interior must allow for safe offshore drilling off of America’s coasts. This pick is not only a win for regular Americans, but for outdoorsmen and sportsmen too.

 

New Oil Find In Texas Means Prices Should Stay Low

The U.S. Geological Survey announced this week that it had discovered the what may be the largest untapped supply of oil ever found in America. The discovery sits in the Permian Basin of West Texas near Midland, an already booming oil town that was the childhood home of President George W. Bush.

The find comes amid a two-year oil price slump that has caused pains among Texas companies as well as foreign oil producers like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Russia. Many oil companies in Texas have already filed bankruptcy and many more hover on the brink.

“The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more,” said Walter Guidroz of the USGS. “Changes in technology and industry practices can have significant effects on what resources are technically recoverable, and that’s why we continue to perform resource assessments throughout the United States and the world.”

The new find and the oil slump are both made possible by new technology that allows oil to be harvested that was untouchable in the past. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and the ability to drill for shale oil have vastly increased the amount of the world’s recoverable oil reserves.

The New York Times reports that US domestic oil production has almost doubled in the past few years, largely due to these new technologies. As US production of oil has increased, the need for foreign imports has fallen. Foreign oil companies have struggled to find new markets and prices have fallen as a result.

Over the past few months, oil prices have recovered from less than $20 per barrel to the current $40-50 range. Many wells are not profitable at current prices and have shut down. Likewise, new exploration and projects have lagged because they are not cost effective without a higher price for oil.

Most analysts have predicted that oil prices will take several years to recover to the $60 range where many more wells and projects would be profitable. The likelihood of oil returning to $100 per barrel prices that were frequently seen from 2008 through 2014 seems remote.

The new oil discovery also serves as a reminder of how rapidly things can change. Alarmists have been predicting for years that the world has reached the point of “peak oil,” the point where oil production has reached a maximum and will begin a decline due to diminishing reserves. Far from it.

In the past few years, US and world oil reserves have increased markedly due to new discoveries and new technologies. At the same time, the world is using its oil more efficiently thanks to technological advances in engines and aerodynamics. Even with more people and countries using oil, the world’s oil supplies should be abundant for many years to come.