There are an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil waiting to be tapped in the Arctic Ocean, off the coast of Alaska. But after spending five years and nearly $4 billion, Shell Oil Company has been forced to abandon its efforts to drill for oil in the region.
With gas at $4 per gallon and higher, one might think that more oil would be a good thing. So what’s the road block? The Environmental Protection Agency. Fox News reports that the EPA is withholding necessary air permits because of a one square mile village of 245 people, 70 miles from the off-shore drilling site. From Fox News’ Dan Springer:
The EPA’s appeals board ruled that Shell had not taken into consideration emissions from an ice-breaking vessel when calculating overall greenhouse gas emissions from the project. Environmental groups were thrilled by the ruling.
“What the modeling showed was in communities like Kaktovik, Shell’s drilling would increase air pollution levels close to air quality standards,” said Eric Grafe, Earthjustice’s lead attorney on the case.
Who at the EPA made the decision? Springer writes:
The Environmental Appeals Board has four members: Edward Reich, Charles Sheehan, Kathie Stein and Anna Wolgast. All are registered Democrats and Kathie Stein was an activist attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund. Members are appointed by the EPA administrator.
President Barack Obama said in his weekly address on Saturday that “there’s no silver bullet that can bring down gas prices right away,” but that one thing America can do is pursue “safe and responsible production of oil at home.” Too bad his words and his actions are not one and the same. Aside for the EPA’s decision on Shell, the Obama administration has imposed a months-long moratorium on deepwater offshore drilling that curtailed domestic production and sent some seven drilling rigs elsewhere.
The Heritage Foundation’s Nicolas Loris recommends the following actions for Congress and President Obama if they truly want to expand access to America’s domestic energy supply:
- Allow access to domestic reserves. Permitting exploration of reserves in Alaska, Colorado, Wyoming, and federal waters offshore would inject confidence into the market, create jobs, and stimulate the economy.
- Roll back regulatory burdens on companies. Strapping companies with onerous regulatory processes only hinders access. Litigation opportunities should be limited and the permitting process made more rational.
- Issue offshore drilling permits. Lifting the de facto moratorium on offshore drilling permits would gain companies access to domestic resources and increase our domestic energy supply.
Mike Brownfield oversees execution of The Heritage Foundation . http://www.heritage.org/ social networking strategy and online media outreach as the think tank’s senior digital communications associate.