New studies show vast benefits of offshore energy development

America is forfeiting hundreds of thousands of new jobs and tens of billions in GDP each year by maintaining governmental restrictions on energy development in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). That’s according to two studies conducted by Quest Offshore Resources, Inc. and released this week by the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) and the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Combined with the results of a similar study last year looking at the Atlantic OCS, Quest found that the U.S. is missing out on 883,000 new jobs and $70 billion in GDP annually, along with $449 billion in private sector spending and $200 billion in new revenue for the government.

Today, a meager 13 percent of the OCS is open to development, and natural gas production on federal lands has fallen steadily, down 43 percent from FY 2003-2013. No other developed nation puts comparable constraints on its own energy resources. 

The solution is simple. The Obama Administration must include these off-limits areas in the Department of the Interior’s next OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which runs from 2017 to 2022.

Lease sales in these areas could be an engine of new investment and economic growth that would benefit American families, industries, and businesses from coast to coast. The positive effects would begin with the first lease sale and would be fully realized by 2035.

Responsible development of America’s oil and natural gas resources is vital to U.S. energy security and economic prosperity and part of a comprehensive national energy strategy. Our nation needs to promote and develop all of its energy resources—conventional and shale natural gas, oil, wind, nuclear, solar, etc.—while also promoting energy efficiency and alternative sources, such as energy recovery.

As demand for natural gas increases in many sectors of the economy, much of it driven by government policy, it only makes sense for policymakers to increase access to supply. Including these resource-rich OCS areas in the Administration’s next five-year plan would be an excellent step.

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