Regardless of how the November elections for the U.S. Senate go, whether it’s a new Republican or a continued Democratic majority, the prospect for more offshore drilling along the East Coast is likely.
That is not just because of the economics of energy demand, which are inarguable. America needs more energy production, even if — as experts strongly endorse, and President Barack Obama has pushed in office — we do more to conserve energy.
The prospects of East Coast energy production looked brighter politically early in this decade, as states saw several key developments: a need for more energy, obviously, but also the benefits of offshore development in state’s economies.
That was helped along by offshore revenue sharing legislation pushed by the Louisiana delegation and particularly pro-development U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., chairwoman of the Energy Committee. Landrieu this year told the Press Club of Baton Rouge that Atlantic coast development is in the national interest, and that the nation ought to make the small but vital initial investment in seismic work to find out how much energy is out there. The Republican-led U.S. House has pushed for expanded drilling.
But that positive progress was undermined, in the most dramatic fashion possible, by the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster and subsequent giant oil spill of 2010. On the West Coast, governors opposed to new development still hark back to the 1969 spill off Santa Barbara.
The interest in Atlantic drilling has not gone away, though. The economics demands of the nation require it.
At a recent conference in North Carolina, that state’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, noted the growing energy needs of his citizens. “We are hypocrites in North Carolina if we expect to get all our energy from somewhere else and just expect that our hands are clean in this whole thing,” McCrory said.
That is just a fact, and growth equals energy. Even as the nation enjoys an onshore boom in energy production caused by fracking technologies, the demand for billions of barrels of oil and similar quantities of natural gas is not going to go down.
Perhaps it will be years off, because of the need to develop the infrastructure to handle energy production in states like North Carolina. But that process has to begin with exploration and then leasing in an offshore region that is likely to have substantial prospects for development.