A few weeks ago, Wilmington welcomed Rear Adm. Don Loren at a luncheon honoring North Carolina’s veterans. Days before, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) decided to omit the Atlantic Ocean from the Five-Year Lease Plan.
Loren has worked for years to keep our nation safe. He served for more than 40 years in the Navy and traveled the world studying security and terrorist activities. He also served as the assistant deputy secretary of Homeland Security Integration. In his discussion here in Wilmington, Loren highlighted the continued importance of energy security to our national security. Even on the national stage, Loren emphasized how North Carolina has continued to be front and center in the national security discussion, and we have also been at the forefront of the energy development discussion as we have debated exploration off the Atlantic Coast.
As I sat in the audience at the American Legion, I looked around at the faces in the crowd. These people have decades of experience protecting the very beaches all of us are trying to protect. We all want the same thing – freedom and security. We want the freedom to pursue opportunity and the security that we can do so without fear.
Energy efficiency and conservation as well as the development of all forms of energy are necessary for our nation, and the world, to meet growing demands while addressing climate change. We believe that we must invest in all energy sources, including renewables and non-renewables. We need to invest in batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, more fuel-efficient cars and other technologies.
However, we also recognize U.S. Department of Energy projections that, even with growth in renewables and improvements in energy efficiency, we will still rely on oil and natural gas to meet more than 60 percent of our energy demand for decades to come.
Fortunately, the United States is in an historic position as the world’s leader in oil and natural gas development to help our nation and the world to meet this demand.
This energy revolution has generated thousands of jobs and billions in revenue to contribute to our gross domestic product (GDP). It has shielded us from instability and reduced our imports, and thus our reliance on those who do not share our values. The increased use of natural gas has assisted us in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and this trend can continue.
Our strong energy production has also given us the economic and military independence to help protect us from the threats from adversarial nations, from terrorist groups such as ISIS, and from economic and political coercion. And now, with the ability to export both oil and natural gas, we also have a valuable diplomatic tool to support our allies.
We must embrace this role and not squander any further opportunities to increase our domestic energy production. To do so would perpetuate poor policy decisions. These opportunities are critical to our nation’s prosperity, security and future.
The fact remains that America still holds vast resources off the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Although the White House took away leasing options for the next five years, we shouldn’t completely halt the process. We should conduct new seismic tests using the latest technology to assess what is really out there. These tests will better estimate the energy and economic potential so that we can be prepared for the administration’s next lease cycle.
Our policymakers should also allow revenues to flow from offshore development to coastal communities so that these communities can further benefit economically from this development. These sound, methodical next steps will open the door to securing our energy and economic potential.
While I am disappointed, along with Loren, about the recent decision made on North Carolina’s behalf, we must continue to pursue energy solutions to secure our national security.
TIME recently published a piece written by Admiral Loren. I encourage you to read it here.
David McGowan III is executive director of the North Carolina Petroleum Council. The North Carolina Petroleum Council is a division of American Petroleum Institute, which represents all segments of America's technology-driven oil and natural gas industry. Its 500-plus members provide most of the nation's energy. For more information, go to http://www.api.org or contact McGowan at [email protected].
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