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Louis Finkel's remarks at press briefing regarding SENR Committee hearing on the BOEM 2017-22 five year plan

Press briefing ahead of SENR Committee hearing on the BOEM 2017-22 five year plan
Louis Finkel, API Executive Vice President
Thursday, May 19, 2016

Opening statement as prepared for delivery:

Good morning, thank you for joining today’s call.

This afternoon, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to examine the Department of Interior’s 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

This hearing is particularly important because, today, 87 percent of federal offshore areas remain off limits to oil and natural gas production.

While the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world thanks to development that has taken place mostly on private and state lands, the federal government has been slow to react to our nation’s new energy reality.

This new reality has made us less dependent on foreign sources of energy, strengthened our national security, and made the United States a global leader in growing our economy while lowering our carbon emissions.

And the energy revolution here in the U.S. has brought lower prices to U.S. consumers and businesses.

We are calling on the federal government to align its offshore leasing program to reflect our nation’s newly found energy leadership and focus on the opportunities this creates for our nation.

Recent U.S. global successes in energy production and emissions reductions have come through industry leadership, innovation and billions of dollars of private capital investments. Thanks to industry efforts, methane emissions are down significantly as well as carbon and other air emissions, all while energy production has been going up.

The U.S. energy renaissance has happened over the past decade despite this administration’s delays in permitting and a barrage of unnecessary and often duplicative regulatory proposals.

But if continued, these burdens could set us back years.

The U.S. needs forward-looking energy policy. And we commend the Congress for focusing on the important issues surrounding energy and the Department of Interior’s 5-year plan.

Given the long lead times for offshore development, failing to include the Arctic and other potentially energy-rich areas in the leasing plan puts us on a path back to energy scarcity and dependence. Not long ago, because of this scarcity and dependence, American consumers were subject to price shocks caused by instability in other energy- rich regions of the world.

Let the past decade and the successes of development of private lands be a guide. By exploring new onshore areas and developing previously technically unreachable energy sources, the Marcellus and other shale formations have proven invaluable as energy, economic and geopolitical resources for the U.S.

We need to apply this vision to the development of offshore energy.

Within the existing BOEM plan, this administration has already failed to apply this lesson. Already, the administration has removed the Atlantic from the program, and there are activists suggesting that BOEM’s plan should also remove the Arctic. But this is short-sighted.

It’s estimated that the Beaufort and Chukchi seas have more technically recoverable oil and natural gas than the Atlantic and Pacific coasts combined.

Leaving out offshore Alaska would put the U.S. at a serious global competitive disadvantage, considering that Russia, Iran, and other countries are moving rapidly to develop oil and gas resources. Even this week, Norway announcement new Arctic leases.

As Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said earlier this month to a reporter with the Desert Sun, “There are many, many miles driven every day. We don’t yet have solar-powered cars. It's going to take a very long time before we can wean ourselves from fossil fuels, so I think that to keep it in the ground is naïve, to say we could shift to 100 percent renewables is naïve.” We must recognize the real complexity of what we’re dealing with.

EIA data supports her statement. In last week’s EIA International Energy Outlook, new data estimates global energy demand will rise nearly 50 percent between now and 2040 and fossil fuels will continue to supply more than 75 percent of the energy the world uses in 2040.

The message here is simple: We must continue to think ahead, explore and develop new areas to protect U.S. energy security for generations to come.

If the U.S. is to remain an energy leader and stay competitive at a global level, we must have the foresight to plan ahead. We have an enhanced system of safety with increased capabilities to prevent, contain and respond to any potential incident, and we should not sit idly by while other countries advance technologies and develop resources in areas such as the Arctic and the Atlantic.

We urge lawmakers to seize this opportunity to create jobs and support America’s growth as a global energy superpower by lifting outdated roadblocks to safe and responsible energy development.

American consumers, American businesses and future generations need energy programs from the Department of the Interior to align with today’s energy realities... I am ready to take your questions.
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