Congressman Culberson Criticizes Ocean Task Force Report

I have recently joined with more than 60 of my House colleagues in criticizing recent recommendations made by the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force. The task force, created by President Obama in June, was led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and charged with developing a recommendation for a comprehensive national policy for U.S. oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes.

The following letter was written to the chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality:


Dear Chairwoman Sutley:

As supporters of responsible and productive use of our ocean resources, we write to express concerns about the Interim Report of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force that was recently released by the Obama Administration.

The Ocean Policy Task Force is proposing a system of oceans governance that could significantly impact economic and recreational activities in our oceans. The policies and principles that are advocated in the Interim Report focus heavily on environmental stewardship, which is one of several important priorities. However, the Interim Report does not adequately support other national priorities, including the economic development of ocean resources and the recreational use of our waters.

We are particularly concerned about the Task Force’s impact on our nation’s ability to safely develop its own offshore energy, including oil, natural gas and renewable energy. It is critical that the Task Force’s proposals do not inhibit energy activity offshore in domestic waters and undermine the Department of the Interior’s Five Year Leasing Program for offshore energy development. An ocean management policy that puts new restrictions on energy development would not only raise prices for consumers, but would negatively impact Americans working in the offshore energy industry and all Americans whose livelihood depends on access to affordable energy.

According to a recent American Energy Alliance report, expanded drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) would generate 1.2 million jobs and $70 billion in additional wages annually, plus $8 trillion in economic output and $2.2 trillion in total tax receipts. The American public has also expressed its overwhelming support for increasing offshore energy production.

Economic and recreational activity in our oceans is compatible with responsible ocean stewardship. The oil and natural gas industry has proven that environmental protection of the ocean can be accomplished in harmony with energy development. Advances in technology have made offshore production cleaner and safer than ever. OCS leases produce about 1.4 million barrels of oil per day, and the Mineral Management Service calculates that since the 1980s less than 0.001% of the oil produced in the OCS has been spilled.

We urge the Obama Administration and the Task Force to take an approach to oceans policy that recognizes and promotes access to the abundant American energy resources located offshore. By ensuring that offshore areas surrounding the Gulf, Atlantic, Pacific and Alaskan coasts are open to responsible oil, natural gas and alternative energy development, the federal government will provide the nation with the opportunity to safely produce our own energy. This effort will significantly benefit our economy by creating domestic jobs and decreasing our dependence on foreign energy.


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