WASHINGTON — A new coalition in support of offshore energy exploration and development was launched Wednesday by a national oil and natural gas industry trade association.
Explore Offshore, a project of the American Petroleum Institute, or API, held a press conference to introduce the organization that is made up of several dozen businesses and community leaders in the southeastern United States.
During the phone conference, Explore Offshore’s national co-chairs, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson and former Secretary of the Navy and former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., along with a diverse group of chairs and co-chairs representing Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, addressed members of the press.
API’s Erik Milito, director of Upstream and Industry Operations, explained that the Department of the Interior is in the process of taking a critical step that will affect American energy production, job creation and energy security as it develops the 2019-2024 national offshore leasing program. He explained that the Explore Offshore coalition brings together more than 100 business and community leaders to show their support for expanded offshore oil natural gas development.
Nicholson said during his remarks that the members of the Explore Offshore coalition want reliable and affordable prices at the pump and a more assured energy, economic and national security for the future, which can be made possible through U.S. offshore development.
He cited a recent report by Calash, an energy consulting firm, that reported oil and natural gas development in the Atlantic and eastern Gulf of Mexico over an 18-year period could support 425,000 jobs across the country and add $36 billion to the economy per year.
Webb said that oil and gas are the key drivers of the world economies and that “we remain vulnerable in an expanding global economy marked by ever-growing energy needs.
“I’ve long believed that developing off shore oil and natural gas reserves is a much-needed, common sense step for America’s future,” he said.
Webb added that national policies have failed to adjust to the significant advances in exploration, drilling technology and safety measures that would allow research to be conducted as well as safely explore and develop all existing domestic oil and natural gas resources including those offshore.
Among the state representatives to speak was former Fayetteville, North Carolina, mayor Nat Robertson.
Robertson said that he understands firsthand the importance of natural gas and oil production to the economy and how that relates to affordable utility bills and lower prices at the pump.
“Right now North Carolina has a great opportunity with Secretary Zinke’s plan to open up the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf to oil and natural gas exploration,” Robertson said.
Regarding the North Carolina coast, Maliko said that the industry and government go through an environmental review process to make sure there is an understanding of offshore areas such as the Graveyard of the Atlantic off North Carolina’s coast.
Frank Knapp Jr., president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement in response to the American Petroleum Industry’s launch of Explore Offshore, that “the petroleum industry knows that it is in serious jeopardy of not getting the permits it wants to conduct seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic to search for oil and gas deposits.
“It knows that the public, businesses, local coastal governments and state government leaders overwhelmingly oppose exploration and drilling for oil in the Atlantic,” Knapp continued. “So Big Oil is creating this fake coalition made up primarily of former elected officials who have no responsibility to represent the public and businesses that will be harmed.”