Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Opening the Atlantic Ocean to offshore drilling is long overdue

May 5, 2014
Op-Ed

Washington Times
Opening the Atlantic Ocean to offshore drilling is long overdue

Congressman Pete Olson

After a record-breaking long, harsh winter, Americans are already bracing themselves for a summer that will see the thermostat—and electric bills—spike. That fact is part of why whether for controlling the temperature in our homes, filling up the gas tank or cooking the family dinner, a reliable, affordable energy supply is critical for all Americans.

The Gulf Coast has long done its part to provide energy to America. The oil and gas industry has successfully tapped into the abundant energy resources on land and in even the deepest waters. As drilling increases to new fields both offshore and onshore in recent years, this has meant even more jobs, affordable energy and national security. It's no mistake that Texas has led the way in the economic recovery. But in too many parts of the country, that opportunity is lost.

The current debate over opening the US Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to offshore drilling is long overdue. Today, there is bipartisan support in states like Virginia to tap into these resources and further reduce our reliance on foreign energy resources. At the same time, advances in drilling technologies and computerized modeling data could set the stage for a safe, East Coast energy renaissance that would significantly impact the economy along the East Coast, bolster job creation and could serve as a new source of state government revenues. 

At this point, the amount of energy off our eastern shore is unknown. Old estimates derived from now-antiquated technology concluded that almost three and half billion barrels of oil can be safely accessed through the Atlantic OCS. The true number is likely much higher.  However many barrels of oil sit off our coast, it is likely a tremendous amount of untapped energy in a part of the country that remains reliant on imports of crude from expensive and sometimes unreliable sources overseas.  

The energy and economic benefits of offshore drilling and production in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf are worth pursuing. Any increase in oil and natural gas could ease the upward push of energy prices due to greater supply. Enhanced shale oil production in Texas and North Dakota have far exceeded expectations and revolutionized local economies.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, offshore drilling in the Atlantic would contribute $23.5 billion to the U.S. economy annually until 2035. It would also add about 280,000 new energy jobs that our economy critically needs.

The Obama Administration has completely excluded the Atlantic Coast out of plans to access domestic oil and gas - leaving billions of barrels of oil and millions of dollars in local revenue off limits. Currently, just the right to study the area’s energy potential is winding its way through red tape and bureaucracy. However, the potential in the Atlantic is too great to ignore any longer.

Offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean would safely and significantly contribute to the local and national economy, increase government revenues and boost domestic energy production while reducing U.S. reliance on foreign oil.An investment in American energy independence is an investment in the American economy for generations to come.

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