The Politics of Offshore Oil

The Politics of Offshore Oil

The Politics of Offshore Oil

The Politics of Offshore Oil

Excerpt

After a decade of confusion in energy policy, the United States is beginning to move toward a more balanced energy strategy. This welcomed trend is the product of careful thinking about the nature of the energy problem we face. Such thinking is to be encouraged.

Energy policy results from the policy makers' perception of the energy problem. If the problem is perceived to be the level of oil imports, then the answer is anything that reduces oil imports. The energy independence programs of Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter spawned hundreds of expensive programs—the synthetic fuels program, for example—that trampled considerations of environmental risks. On the other hand, if the problem is defined as vulnerability to disruptions in our supply of oil, then the answer is oil storage. Rapid fill of our strategic petroleum reserve is an example of a vulnerability-reducing measure. Careful thinking about the nature of the energy problem can lead to different perceptions of the problem and thus to quite dissimilar policy implications.

If those of us who subscribe to the vulnerability-reducing thesis are correct, then the country need not rush head-long to develop every available energy source regardless of the financial or environmental cost. Subject to certain constraints, we can allow healthy competition among the many sources of energy to guide energy policy. As long as the governments environmental and competitive guidelines are enforced, informed energy consumers can be free to choose from the available mix of energy sources according to their own preferences and circumstances. Similarly, as long as the government's environmental and antitrust guidelines are followed, energy suppliers should be free to develop any energy resource they think they can sell.

For oil and gas exploration, this energy policy has clear implications. First, there is no overriding national need to cast caution to the wind; energy producers should develop offshore oil and gas supplies at a rate dictated by economic efficiency and environmental protection. Second, the clear role for the state and federal governments is to set environmental guidelines and provide a climate that fosters responsible development of state and federal resources. These

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.