Energy Industry Starts Campaign for Atlantic Drilling


The American Petroleum Institute announced last week that it has formed a new coalition to support the expansion of offshore drilling off the coasts of the southeastern U.S., enlisting a group of former lawmakers and cabinet members from Virginia to Florida to lobby in support of new offshore opportunities.

Explore Offshore is a coalition of community groups from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida working to support enhanced drilling off the coasts of those states. API calls it a bipartisan group looking to capitalize on the job creation and economic opportunities that come with expanded oil and gas production.

Member groups include the Virginia Chamber of Commerce; Hispanic Chambers of Commerce from Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina; conservative think-tank Civitas Institute; the Virginia Ship Repair Association, Virginia Marine Trades Association, Carolinas chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, and other trade and political groups.

Expansion Beyond the Gulf

The new coalition comes as the federal government prepares to potentially ramp up offshore drilling, months after Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke called for opening “nearly the entire U.S. Outer Continental Shelf” to extraction.

Shortly after that statement in early January, confusion ensued regarding whether Florida would be subject to drilling lease sales or not; Zinke said after discussions with Florida Gov. Rick Scott that he would take Florida off the table due to its reliance on beach tourism as an economic driver. Days later, administration officials said that Florida was in fact not officially exempt from future drilling.

The vast majority of offshore drilling done in U.S. waters is currently taking place in the Gulf of Mexico. Late in his second term, former President Barack Obama moved to declare a moratorium on new drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific, as well as parts of Alaska, but President Donald J. Trump’s administration announced plans to repeal that moratorium in January.

Florida’s Scott was joined by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in opposing the plan to expand drilling to the Atlantic when the announcement was first made, and many environmental and tourism-industry groups have expressed concerns about the possibility since. Explore Offshore looks to organize and amplify groups that favor offshore drilling in their areas of the East Coast.

Jobs, Security

The coalition says new offshore drilling could create hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs up and down the East Coast, and would help the United States to become energy-independent.

Jim Webb, a Democratic former senator from Virginia and onetime Secretary of the Navy, will act as co-chair of the coalition. “Technology, drilling techniques and industry standards have all changed greatly since these restrictions were put into place,” he said in a statement. “Our national policies should mirror the significant advances that have been made in these areas, for the good of our national security and of our economy."


Tagged categories: Government; NA; North America; Offshore; Oil and Gas; Program/Project Management

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