From today’s Wall Street Journal:
President Obama is campaigning as a champion of the oil and gas boom he’s had nothing to do with, and even as his regulators try to stifle it. The latest example is the Interior Department’s little-noticed August decision to close off from drilling nearly half of the 23.5 million acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.
The area is called the National Petroleum Reserve because in 1976 Congress designated it as a strategic oil and natural gas stockpile to meet the “energy needs of the nation.” Alaska favors exploration in nearly the entire reserve. The feds had been reviewing four potential development plans, and the state of Alaska had strongly objected to the most restrictive of the four. Sure enough, that was the plan Interior chose. [...]
The Interior power play couldn’t come at a worse time for Alaska, whose economy and government are heavily reliant on oil jobs and revenues. As recently as the 1980s, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline carried some 2.2 million barrels of oil a day from the North Slope to the port of Valdez. Yet as the once-rich fields of Prudhoe Bay and the Kuparuk River have declined, oil flow has dropped to one-third of that volume. North Dakota recently passed Alaska as the second highest oil-producing state behind Texas.
The problem isn’t that Alaska is running out of oil but that federal rules are preventing the state from developing those resources. No matter what Mr. Obama says now, in a second term his great Alaska energy shutout will continue.
Maybe it’s time to revisit, “Drill, baby, drill!”