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Erik Milito's remarks at press briefing on polling data and federal offshore energy policy

Press briefing on polling data and federal offshore energy policy
Erik Milito, API upstream group director
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Opening statement as prepared for delivery:

Good morning.

Seventy-seven percent of American voters want to see the U.S. produce more oil and natural gas here in the U.S., according to a new survey by Harris Poll. Strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents all agree on this.

But only 28 percent of voters say the federal government does enough to encourage domestic oil and natural gas development.

And 68 percent – including majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents – say they would be more likely to vote for candidates who support offshore drilling.

Clearly, voters do not think energy should be a partisan issue.

These revelations come at a key moment for America’s energy future.

A significant amount of our offshore oil and natural gas resources are located in the 87 percent of waters the federal government has placed off-limits to energy exploration and development.

Oil and gas production dropped on federal lands and offshore areas between 2009 and 2013 while the rest of the country experienced an unprecedented energy revolution responsible for millions of jobs.

Expanding U.S. energy production in areas the federal government currently holds off-limits would grow our economy and provide new sources of income for the government. In the Atlantic alone, the benefits could equal 280,000 new American jobs and $51 billion in revenue for the government.

And as 80 percent of voters in our poll recognize, producing more oil and natural gas here at home also strengthens our national security by reducing the impact of political instability in other parts of the world.

If the federal government allowed U.S. oil and natural gas companies to compete for customers on the global marketplace – and allowed oil and natural gas development in the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico – other energy producing nations would find it much harder to use their supplies as a destabilizing weapon of diplomacy.

On Friday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced some positive news with its decision to issue permits for modern geological surveys in the south and mid-Atlantic.

These surveys will give our industry and the government a clearer picture of the oil and gas resources hidden beneath the Atlantic seafloor, although there is a lack of scientific support for some of the constraints the government might place on survey operations.

If permits are issued swiftly, survey operations could begin by next spring.

But the potential resources these surveys reveal will remain off-limits unless the federal government agrees to hold lease sales and allow drilling to begin.

API will submit formal comments to BOEM next week as the bureau considers where to hold offshore lease sales after the current program expires in 2017.

There is also broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for removing government roadblocks to greater domestic oil and natural gas production. Legislators from both sides of the aisle are working together to create more opportunities for offshore energy development.

Just yesterday, a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing examined the tremendous economic impact that energy production can have at the state and local level in terms of job creation and revenue for the government.

These are benefits that many families and businesses have seen or experienced firsthand, and voters have taken note. Ninety percent of voters in our recent poll understand that producing more oil and gas in the U.S. creates more American jobs, and 82 percent acknowledge the positive impact for government budgets.

Voters from across the political spectrum want to find and tap the vast oil and natural gas resources waiting to be discovered off our shores. Our industry stands ready to do the job safely and responsibly, and the benefits to our economy and our national security are impossible to deny.

All the federal government needs to do is say, “Yes.”

That concludes my opening remarks today. Thank you for joining the call, and I will now take your questions.