First it was Keystone, now it’s coast-to-coast. Scared to affront his base in an election year, Obama has imposed a five-year drilling ban on a majority of offshore areas. This is particularly disappointing given America’s persistent unemployment. 

Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise. Obama’s recent decision to punt on Keystone may have effectively killed the project, and the thousands of jobs needed to complete the pipeline. Like Keystone, the Department of Interior’s five year lease plan leaves hundreds of thousands of jobs on the table.

The Institute for Energy Research’s Dan Simmons points out a few facts about offshore oil and natural gas production:

·  2.2 percent of offshore areas are leased for oil and natural gas production
·  Oil and natural gas production on federal lands has fallen by over 40 percent since 2000
·  Since 2000, oil production on private and state lands has risen by 11 percent and natural gas production has riven by 40 percent
·  When President Obama was elected, all offshore lands were available for leasing except for a small area near Florida’s coast
·  The Obama administration’s new five-year plan doesn’t allow oil and natural gas exploration or production on the vast majority of taxpayer-owned offshore areas

IER’s chart illustrates how oil and natural gas production fell off a cliff once Obama assumed office:

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash) articulates what is at stake:

The President’s plan is to simply say ‘no’ to new energy production and ‘no’ to new American jobs created by new offshore drilling. It’s a plan that is sending American jobs overseas, forfeiting new revenue, and denying access to American energy that would lessen our dependence on hostile Middle Eastern oil.

Developing the United State’s offshore resources would create over a million jobs, generate billions in revenue and significantly reduce foreign oil imports. It’s been six months since the House has passed bipartisan bills to reverse the Obama moratorium and allow new offshore drilling and the Democrat-controlled Senate has failed to act.

And Chairman Hasting’s staff explains how we ended up here:

Background – Timeline of OCS Leasing and Development:

Beginning in 1981 –

Congress annually passes a moratorium on new OCS development.

1990 –

President George H.W. Bush institutes an Executive Moratorium on OCS leasing (overlapping the annual moratorium imposed by Congress).

July 14, 2008 –

President George W. Bush lifts the Executive ban on OCS leasing.

July 30, 2008 –

President George W. Bush announces the beginning of a new “five-year plan” to provide a blueprint for OCS leasing in the 2010 to 2015 period. This would replace the five-year plan for the 2007-2012 period, which did not provide for any lease sales in areas that were covered by the moratorium.

October 1, 2008 –

Responding to public outcry over high gas prices and mounting pressure from Republican lawmakers, Congress lifts the ban on new oil and gas leasing in the OCS.

January 16, 2009 –

Bush Interior Department issues a Draft Proposed OCS oil and gas leasing program, and solicits comments on all aspects of the plan. The proposal includes 31 OCS lease sales in all or some portion of 12 of the 26 planning areas—4 areas off Alaska, 2 areas off the Pacific coast, 3 areas in the Gulf of Mexico, and 3 areas off the Atlantic coast.

February 10, 2009 –

Secretary Salazar announces he will delay the Bush Administration 5-year plan for oil and natural gas development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf for six months. He begins a “listening tour” in spite of the fact that the Bush Administration had already solicited public opinion on this plan.

September 17, 2009 –

Secretary Salazar states that the Administration may not complete a new OCS lease plan until 2012.

September 21, 2009 –

The Administration’s extended public comment period on the draft proposed 2010-2015 Outer Continental Shelf plan comes to an end – yet the Administration still makes no announcement regarding the future of offshore drilling.

January 26, 2010 –

The Department of the Interior announces it will delay the Virginia offshore lease sale scheduled for November 2011.

January 27, 2010 –

President Obama mentions offshore drilling in his State of the Union address – leading many to believe he is open to expanding drilling in the OCS.

February 1, 2010 –

President Obama releases his FY 2011 budget proposal that shows revenue from new Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) leasing declining from $1.5 billion in 2009 to only $413 million in 2015. The only way revenue would decline is if less of the OCS is offered for leasing for energy production.

February 4, 2010 –

The Wall Street Journal reports that public comments collected by the Department of the Interior ran 2-to-1 in favor of the new 2010-2015 lease plan.

March 3, 2010 –

Secretary Salazar confirms that the Administration will not put a new OCS lease plan in place until 2012, which means no new drilling will take place during President Obama’s term in office.

July, 2010 –

The date new areas would be available for leasing under the original 2010-2015 lease plan if it were not for the “Obama Moratorium,” which has delayed implementation of a new lease plan until 2012.

December 1, 2010 –

Effectively reinstated the ban on offshore drilling, placing the entire Pacific Coast, the entire Atlantic Coast, the Eastern Gulf and parts of Alaska off limits to future energy production until 2017 at the earliest.

November 8, 2011 –

Announces a new draft 2012-2017 lease plan that closes the majority of the OCS to new energy production. The draft plan prohibits new offshore drilling and only allows lease sales to occur in areas that are already open. It includes lease sales in the Western Gulf of Mexico and Alaska – leaving portions of the Arctic and the entire Atlantic and Pacific Coasts off-limits to new energy production and job creation.