Without question, one of the integral components of President Donald Trump’s “America First” national strategy is to spur development and production of energy resources to make the United States dominant on the global stage in that regard.
As such, The Hill reported that Trump’s Interior Department recently announced what stands to be a record-breaking sale of off-shore oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest such sale in U.S. history.
The auction of the leases, scheduled to take place March 21, would open up some 77.3 million acres to offshore drilling for oil and gas off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
Reuters had initially reported on a proposal for such an auction in Oct. of 2017, though details had yet to be finalized.
Up for bid will be roughly 14,375 blocks spread among the western, central and eastern sectors of the Gulf of Mexico’s Outer Continental Shelf, from as few as three to as many as 230 miles off the coast, and with depths ranging from as shallow as nine feet to as deep as 11,115 feet.
It was estimated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that the blocks up for sale contained potentially 210 million to 1.2 billion barrels of oil and from 550 million to 4.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
“In today’s low-price energy environment, providing the offshore industry access to the maximum amount of opportunities possible is part of our strategy to spur local and regional economic dynamism and job creation,” stated Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at the time.
The Interior Department issued a news release on Feb. 16 that announced the upcoming auction, and noted that offshore leases sold throughout 2017 had raised approximately $1 billion more in energy revenues than the year prior.
“Responsibly developing our offshore energy resources is a major pillar of President Trump’s American Energy Dominance strategy,” stated Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. “A strong offshore energy program supports tens of thousands of good-paying jobs and provides the affordable and reliable energy we need to heat homes, fuel our cars, and power our economy.
“We have the strongest safety regulations in the world and today’s technology is making the responsible development of our resources even safer,” added Bernhardt. “We look forward to this important sale and continuing to raise energy revenues, which fund efforts to help safeguard our natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans.”
The release noted that certain blocks would be excluded from the sale, such as the portion of the Gulf placed under a moratorium by Congress in 2006 until 2022, as well as other protected or sensitive areas of the Outer Continental Shelf.
All funds derived from the sale of the leases — including highest bids, rent and royalty payments — would go toward the U.S. Treasury, the Gulf states, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Historic Preservation Fund. Furthermore, various stipulations would be included on the leases to ensure that buyers protected sensitive resources and minimized potentially adverse impacts on the environment, particularly in regard to protected species.
Vincent DeVito, counselor for energy policy at the Interior Department, stated, “American energy production can be competitive, while remaining safe and environmentally sound. People need jobs, the Gulf Coast states need revenue, and Americans do not want to be dependent on foreign oil.”
It remained unclear exactly how many of the blocks up for sale would be purchased at the March 21 auction, or how much would be raised by those sales and subsequent rent and royalty payments … not to mention tax revenue brought in by the sale of the energy produced by the newly opened areas.
Regardless, there is an abundance of energy that is there for the taking, and the U.S. will likely derive many billions in revenue in addition to being further on our way toward not simply being energy independent, but energy dominant on a global scale.
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