API's Gerard calls OCS strategy 'positive'

Paula Dittrick
Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Apr. 22 -- American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack Gerard said he is optimistic about the Obama administration’s announcement that it favors a US Outer Continental Shelf strategy to open new areas for oil and gas development.

“It is a positive turn of event,” Gerard told reporters during an Apr. 21 news conference in Houston. “We’ve really got to wait and see how they roll this out…. We accept what the president has said, that he has taken a dramatic turn.”

US President Barack Obama presented the strategy in a Mar. 31 speech at Andrews Air Force Base. The strategy calls for development in areas such as the eastern Gulf of Mexico, more than 125 miles off Florida's coast; increased exploration in frontier areas such as the Arctic Ocean and Atlantic Ocean off the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic states; and protecting ocean areas with other resources such as Alaska's Bristol Bay.

Public ‘more engaged’
Gerard said the public appears to be more engaged in energy issues that he has seen before, adding that API is working to provide educational sessions and materials about hydraulic fracturing and the importance of shale plays to US energy supply.

“As an industry, we welcome a robust debate if people all deal in the facts,” Gerard said. He believes hydraulic fracturing should continue to be regulated at the state level.

When asked about regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, Gerard said GHG regulations should be handled by the US Congress rather than the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Climate legislation will be far-reaching, Gerard said, adding, “That should not be done by unelected bureaucrats. It should be done by elected officials.”

EPA has indicated its intention to regulate GHGs from vehicles and stationary sources, including refineries. GHG regulations were included in a new rule the EPA and Department of Transportation issued for vehicle fuel economy standards (OGJ, Apr. 19, 2010, p. 27).

On Apr. 5, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson disclosed plans to start regulating large stationary emitters in January 2011.

Gerard believes the outlook for a comprehensive energy policy is better today than it was 5 years ago, which he credited to the public’s awareness about the economy and about energy.

“We’ve got to get Congress to look long-term…to look 10-20 years down the road,” Gerard said. Energy policies of the past have tended to be political driven and planned too much on elected officials’ terms of service, he said.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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