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President Obama's Reversal on Offshore Drilling Hurts United States

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The author of this entry is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or
April 25, 2016 | 1,189 views | Post a comment

By Keith Martin

America's economy is still struggling to gain steam. A new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development projects that the economy will grow just 2 percent this year. That prediction comes on the heels of a sluggish 0.7 percent growth in the last quarter of 2015.

Unfortunately, President Obama just destroyed a key opportunity to revitalize the economic engine by reversing his plan to open parts of the Atlantic up to new offshore energy development.

That's a shame. Further developing offshore energy resources would have created thousands of jobs and produced substantial economic growth.

The Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf, which spans all the way from the coasts of Maine to Florida, is one of the most promising stretches of offshore territory. Official government figures estimate that there are nearly 5 billion barrels of oil and over 37 trillion cubic feet of gas buried under the Shelf's ocean floor.

And those figures are probably low. Some of the most recent surveys of the Shelf are 30 years old. Energy producers have since developed much more sophisticated survey technologies to provide a fuller picture of the reserve.

Tapping into the Atlantic Shelf's bounty has the potential to generate tremendous economic returns. Nationwide, it could boost energy production by over one million barrels a day, creating 280,000 new jobs and adding over $52 billion in government revenue.

That's why, in January 2015, the Obama administration drafted plans to lease 100 million acres of land off the Atlantic coast, from Virginia to Georgia.

Caving to pressure from extreme environmental groups, though, President Obama just decided to nix the project.

Environmental groups celebrated. Oceana noted that the decision "is a cause for tremendous optimism." A climate campaign director for CREDO Action claimed that the president "has spared the people of the Atlantic coast from another oil catastrophe."

Such claims are without merit. A staggering 99.9995 percent of all oil produced, refined, stored and transported in this country does so without incident. Drilling rigs use multiple back-up safety systems. Pipelines use sophisticated sensor systems to instantly detect any vulnerabilities. Tankers now come with double hulls, which greatly lowers the risk of breaks.

Unfortunately, President Obama chose instead to listen to the baseless warnings of environmental groups with a philosophical opposition to any offshore drilling.

This decision is especially jarring once one considers that most Americans support offshore development. Indeed, a recent poll found that about six in every ten supports federal approval for offshore drilling.

Americans want job growth and economic development. Opening up offshore energy drilling would have done just that.

Keith Martin is the Executive Vice President and Public Policy and General Counsel at the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
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