In January 2018, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced a draft proposed plan that would open nearly 90 percent of America’s waters to offshore oil and natural gas development, setting the stage for a multiyear process of fact-gathering, due diligence and public input from citizens at the local, state and federal levels. As expected, groups on both sides of this issue are organizing voices of support and opposition to weigh in on the plan.
The last time many Americans even thought about offshore oil and natural gas exploration was in 2010 when news broke of Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, over the past 10 years, U.S. energy has boomed, and the United States transitioned from a net importer to a net exporter of natural gas. Energy prices have stabilized and Americans have become accustomed to reliable and affordable energy resources. In many regions, unemployment rates are at their lowest in years. As constituents consider commonsense energy policy for the U.S., including further exploration of domestic energy resources both onshore and offshore, they should not take for granted the current economy and access to affordable, reliable energy.
In addition, the Department of the Interior’s proposal to expand offshore oil and natural gas exploration and development includes more than 90 percent of our nation’s waters. At a time when the rest of the world is developing offshore energy resources, the United States is the only nation on the Atlantic that does not currently explore potential energy development locations. Next steps on the Interior Department’s offshore proposal are expected this fall.