Graveyard of Atlantic drilling?


Lost amidst the primary coverage Tuesday was the announcement that the Obama administration is shelving plans to open the Atlantic coast to offshore drilling:

The moves come amid declining industry investment in new exploration and production activities. The price of oil has fallen by about 70% since late 2014, making new investment less attractive. However, the industry continues to seek long-term investment opportunities under the assumption that oil prices will recover.

Offshore drilling in the Atlantic had drawn vigorous support from the American Petroleum Institute, which represents companies in the industry, saying it would have bolstered jobs, tax revenue and economic development.

“The decision appeases extremists,” API CEO Jack Gerard said in a statement. “This is not how you harness America’s economic and diplomatic potential.”

Or line our pockets at the future’s expense, he failed to add.

Only a year ago, governors from Virginia to Georgia had welcomed the prospects of offshore drilling creating jobs and adding to state revenues. But besides oil prices at hovering at their lowest in years, public reaction has been negative. The Interior Department said it had received over a million comments, with local residents fearing “the transformation of the quiet Outer Banks into bustling oil towns“:

The Atlantic Coast States’ interest in pursuing drilling off their shores is relatively recent, as is the legal authority to do that work. While offshore drilling has been an integral part of the coastal economy of the Gulf of Mexico since the 1940s, lawmakers from both parties in the Atlantic Coast States resisted the push by oil companies to explore Atlantic waters, supporting a longstanding legal moratorium on Pacific and Atlantic coastal drilling. That calculus changed after a 2006 law, written by former Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, which for the first time required oil companies to pay a portion of offshore drilling royalties directly to nearby Gulf Coast states.

But not directly to state residents, as they do in Alaska. The revised plan released this week “could still open new parts of the Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, and Cook Inlet, off the coast of Alaska.”

For all the boosterism from the oil industry and the jobs talk among coastal governors, the chances are in the end the jobs would go to skilled workers moving up from the Gulf, the energy would go elsewhere, and the locals would get the dregs. Same as it ever was.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : Energy, Environment

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