Just a few days after launch, “Open the Gulf” quickly caught the attention of a Center for American Progress director who took to ThinkProgress blog to air her grievances with our campaign. Ms. Kroh alleges that our effort relies on “lies and violins” to tell the stories of hard-working Americans struggling to run their businesses and make ends meet amid high gas prices and a de facto moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico.
The first “myth” of our campaign Ms. Kroh cites is that opening the Gulf to more drilling will lower gas prices. Domestic production won’t have an immediate impact on prices at the pump. It will, however, get thousands of Americans idled by the production slowdown back to work, and put our country on the right path toward a more secure energy footing that’s less vulnerable to supply disruptions abroad. It’s hardly a coincidence that gas prices have more than doubled since President Obama took office in January 2009, considering his Administration’s regulatory barriers have kept 97% of our offshore reserves, in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and beyond, off limits to production. It’s rather simple: when supply is limited, prices increase.
Another “myth” Ms. Kroh seeks to deflate is that the Obama Administration is not issuing offshore drilling permits or leases. The Administration has issued permits, but the pace has slowed to a level that’s straining bottom lines for many Americans whose livelihoods are tied to Gulf production. Though the Administration officially lifted its moratorium last year, permit approvals are down 85% from previous levels. Together, the moratorium and permitting freeze have cost 20,000 jobs already and threaten another 380,000 jobs nationwide that depend on robust production in the Gulf region. There is hope, however: In a July 2011 report, IHS CERA and IHS Global Insight estimated that over 230,000 American jobs and nearly $12 billion in tax revenues could be generated in 2012 if activity in the Gulf resumed to normal levels.
The final myth she offers is that our campaign is founded on the belief that offshore oil and gas is worth the risk of another blowout. Last year’s oil spill in the Gulf was tragic, and so is the consequence of policies that have stalled production in an economy still mired in unemployment. According to a January 2011 analysis by independent research firm Wood McKenzie, increased access to domestic resources would create 530,000 jobs, deliver $150 billion more in tax, royalty and other revenue to the government, and boost domestic production by four million barrels of oil equivalent a day by 2025. All this is not to say that we must rely solely on oil and gas; we can and must continue to thoughtfully develop alternative energy and diversify our energy portfolio.
Ms. Kroh concludes that the men and women whose stories we tell in our videos, including Cory the tugboater, Marc the farmer, and David the truck driver, should redirect their outrage to Big Oil’s “obscene profit margins.” Here’s a question for Ms. Kroh: if an industry that pockets 6 cents for every dollar earned is obscene, what, then, is a reasonable profit margin, in your estimation?