The House Committee on Natural Resources has concluded its series of three hearings on energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). True to his stated intention, Chairman Nick Rahall allowed both sides of the issue of energy development on the federal OCS to be put on the table. Environmentalists do not want OCS oil and gas exploration to be allowed to expand beyond where it already exists while energy production companies want access to as much of the OCS as possible.
Maybe Congress can find a happy medium between these views and include it as part of the energy legislation now being drafted in both chambers. That would be a big victory for American consumers as such a compromise would nevertheless open up new areas of great potential for new supplies of natural gas.
At the end of these hearings, I was left with the distinct impression that the question now is where, and under what conditions, to allow offshore energy exploration and production, and not if to allow it. Our position is made clear in a letter to Chairman Rahall from AGA President, David Parker.
Much depends, or at least should depend, on the position taken by coastal states. The legislatures of both North Carolina and South Carolina have established bicameral, and bipartisan, study committees on the OCS to gather input from the public and experts in the field in order to obtain a balanced perspective on the issue. An editorial by North Carolina state senator Bob Rucho in the “Charlotte Observer” presents a balanced viewpoint which I hope other state legislators would adopt as well.